For someone in need of a kidney transplant, the wait time for a compatible organ could last anywhere from five to 10 years on the government’s donor list, the United Network for Organ Sharing, which only includes deceased donors.
On MatchingDonors.com, both patients and donors set up profiles on the site. That way, donors can see patients who need organs, and patients can see who what donors are available. All organ donations on the site are altruistic, since payment for an organ is illegal.
So far, MatchingDonors.com has matched more than 150 patients with donors, according to CBS News, including Christine Jacobsen — a mom of two with lupus nephritis, which causes kidney disease, who’d been waiting seven years for a kidney — to Lee Goldberg — who had wanted to donate her kidney to her uncle, who has since passed away, and wanted to help save a life.
A couple of years ago, TODAY reported the story of Michael Cleaves, whose radiation treatment for colon cancer destroyed his kidney function. Cleaves met his organ match, Nicholas Alo, on MatchingDonors.com.
Live donors are able to donate part or whole of four organs: a single kidney, because one kidney is able to do the work of two; a portion of the liver, because the liver is able to regenerate itself; a portion, or “lobe,” of the lung, because the other lung lobes can expand in the body to replace the area that’s been donated; and part of the pancreas, which is still able to function even if part of it is missing, according to MatchingDonors.com.
At the time of publication of this article, there were 2,118 potential donors registered on MatchingDonors.com.
Right now in the United States, there are more than 110,000 people who need an organ transplant, including 1,785 pediatric patients, according to Donate Life America. There were 28,663 organ transplants and 14,502 organ donors in 2010.
People are also turning to the more mainstream social media sites to find an organ match. CBS News reported earlier this year of Carlos Sanchez, who found a kidney match on Facebook. April Capone, of Connecticut, saw Sanchez’s post for a kidney on her news feed, and reached out to him. Capone ended up being a match, and she gave one of her kidneys to Sanchez last year.
Ohio resident Priscilla Bidlake has also turned to Facebook to search for a match after being diagnosed with kidney failure, The Chronicle-Telegram reported. Bidlake’s daughter created a Facebook page, “Just One for Mom,” to spread awareness.