Raising Awareness of #OrganDonations One Tweet @ a Time

by M-Gillies

Helene Campbell of Ontario Canada sent a tweet to Justin Bieber hoping he would be in support of organ donation. He tweeted back twice in support and news reports say organ donation registration quadrupled in Ontario Canada alone.

In America alone, there are over 93,000 men, women and children currently waiting for life-saving transplants, a number that is increasing every 12 minutes as another name is added to the UNOS National Transplant Waiting List. For these people, they are on the waiting list as end-stage organ failure patients and their struggle to live depends on the complex and technologically-advanced organ allocation system that links patients with organs donated by strangers.

With such a high number of people requiring organ donations, it turns out that the number of donors is well below a beneficial number. In fact, as of 2012, UNOS National Transplant Waiting List has approximately 11,716 donors.

From the depths of obscurity, a 20 year-old Ottawa, Ontario woman has taken to her twitter to rally support for the cause now known as be a donor.

Helene Campbell began her cause back on November 20, 2011 when she developed a website called www.alungstory.ca which chronicles her journey toward receiving new lungs in order to breathe well once again, and enjoy life the way some people may take for granted.

With a diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Campbell’s lungs have been scarred due to inflammation, after receiving pulmonary function tests, it was determined that she only has 24% lung function. In order to treat her condition, Campbell and her mother have taken up temporary residence in Toronto while they await notice of a transplant donor. While Campbell’s medical bills are covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, her costs of re-location are not covered.

Being that her family has now been divided, with her mom taking a temporary leave of absence from her career as a nurse, the family income has been halved. It was with this endeavour that the conception of a website chronicling Campbell’s journey came to fruition. To further help her cause, Campbell and her lifelong friend Kelly Logan began a Facebook event asking people to tweet about organ donation and to further consider becoming a donor for a cause that would save not just one life, but one that could save tens of thousand lives.

“My best friend is going through this and it’s not easy,” Logan said in an article for Global News. “If I could give her my lungs, I would, but I can’t do that.”

To spread the word about the importance of being an organ donor, the young women decided it was time to move in an alternative direction to spread awareness for the cause, and so began the task of getting Canadian singing heartthrob Justin Bieber on board.

Since his initial brush with fame, Bieber has generated upwards of 16.5 million digital disciples worldwide, and understanding the impact that his voice could have, Campbell and Logan decided to tweet Bieber with the hashtag #beanorgandonor.

“I would love for Justin Bieber to either retweet or say something about it himself,” Campbell said to Global News. “I would like to see him set an example for all of his followers.”

It was after their tweet on January 19, 2012, from @alungstory which read “Hey @justinbieber! I BELIEB you should use that Canadian voice of yours and help save lives like mine #beanorgandonor beadonor.ca #giveblood,” that the hashtag #beanorgandonor began trending across Canada’s twitter community.

Then something incredible happened.

The Biebs’ replied with a heartfelt message on January 21, 2012 saying “@alungstory i got the word… you have amazing strength. I got u. #BeAnOrganDonor” followed by a second tweet which read from Bieber, “help spread the word for @alungstory alungstory.ca #BeAnOrganDonor,” “and @alungstory NEVER SAY NEVER”.

Meanwhile, as Campbell awaits for her transplant, she has said she will continue to blog and make videos to spread the message of the importance of being an organ donor.

Learn More About Helene Campbell at A Lung Story or follower her on Twitter @alungstory to help spread the awareness and importance of being an organ donor.

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