By Julia Belluz - Friday, November 9, 2012 - 0 Comments
This is the second part of a series of articles adapted from the 2012 Hancock Lecture, “Who Live and Who Dies, Will Social Media Decide?” recently delivered at the University of Toronto by Julia Belluz. This installment looks at the use of social media for health campaigning about organ donation. Read parts Read parts one, three and four.
Anyone who opened a newspaper or turned on the television some time in the last eight months has probably heard of Hélène Campbell. She’s the 20-year-old Ottawa native who was admitted to hospital last July with collapsed lungs. The doctors said it was pulmonary fibrosis, which scars and thickens the lungs to the point of incapacity, death. Her only option: a double-lung transplant.
In January, Campbell was placed on the donor list. In the past, the story probably would have ended there. The would-be donor recipient would wait quietly for her call. But in January, Campbell turned to social media. She started a blog to document her journey and raise funds for the move to Toronto that was necessary as she awaited lungs.
Out of that initiative sprang a third goal: to raise awareness about the need for organ donors. She tweeted to the pop star Justin Bieber. He, in turn, shared her story to his 29 million Twitter followers. This absolutely silly, spontaneous interaction gave Campbell a global audience.