George Labecki is not someone who gives in to adversity very easily. In fact, he is someone who takes hardships and turns them into new opportunities.
In February 2017, George was diagnosed with stage IV kidney disease and had just 13% kidney function.
George needed a kidney transplant. Like many patients, he was faced with the challenge of finding a living donor. Asking someone to become your living donor is an overwhelming task but George was not about to give up.
“You have to keep fighting and search for any opportunity to get healthy,” said George.
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On Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, George found his answer to a healthier life. Or in other words, his answer found him.
After reading George’s heartfelt Facebook post, Lindsay Arnold, a former student from George’s high school teaching days, quietly decided to donate one of her kidneys to George. After an extensive evaluation to ensure she was a match, Lindsay surprised George by announcing that she would donate the kidney to save his life.
“I was just overcome with emotion. You try and be the tough guy behind these emotional walls when you’re sick, and Lindsay broke down those walls that day.”
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Today, George is healthy and enjoying life with his new kidney, and he and Lindsay still talk to each other every day.
It can be challenging to find someone who is willing to become a living donor — especially when time is a great concern.
George shares a few tips to help families and patients find potential living donors via social media.
1.) Be consistent with your voice and be true to yourself when posting
When you are sharing your story on social media, remember to be yourself. People will realize your authenticity if you speak from the heart, and they really respond to that.
Think about ways you can get people to notice and engage with your post. I love animals, so I used a photo of my dog. This helped people see the real me and because people love pictures of animals, they may have been more likely to stop and read my post.
Not being yourself on social media is not the answer and just simply being yourself can take you places that you thought were unreachable. Don’t be afraid to get personal and let people know the real you. That helps them connect and feel drawn to read or share your story with others.
2.) Provide your audience with education on the topic
If you do not inform people about what you’re going through, they most likely will not respond physically or emotionally.
Here are some helpful stats about living-donor kidney transplant that you can include in your social media posts:
- To avoid complications during surgery, living donors must be at least 18 years old as well as mentally and physically healthy with no record of illnesses involving any major organ.
- More than 100,000 people are currently on the national waiting list for an organ transplant.
- There are many benefits in choosing living donation instead of waiting on the list for a deceased donor.
- You receive your organ sooner than if you remain on the waiting list.
- Surgery is scheduled at a time when you are at your best possible health, which can lead to better outcomes.
- Survival rates for patients who receive a transplant from a living donor are significantly longer compared to people who receive a deceased donor transplant.
3.) Ask people to share your post
I actually forgot to ask in my Facebook post that everyone who reads it to please share with others.
However, social media took care of that problem all on its own, and my post was shared more than 150 times. My message reached hundreds of people and that ultimately connected me with Lindsay.
Social media can be so powerful if it’s used well.
4.) Don’t ever give up
Be patient and believe that you will find a donor eventually. You must be the best advocate for your situation, and you must keep trying. You have to keep shaking the trees and do whatever it takes to find your answer.
To learn more about how to find a living donor and to review sample social media posts, visit UPMC.com/LivingDonorChampion.
About Transplant Services
Established in 1981, UPMC Transplant Services is one of the foremost organ transplant centers in the world. Our clinicians have performed more than 20,000 organ transplant procedures, including liver, kidney, pancreas, single and double lung, heart, and more. We are home to some of the world’s foremost transplant experts and have a long history of developing new antirejection therapies—so organ recipients can enjoy better health with fewer restrictions.