Wednesday, July 20, 2011


As some of you know, I've always been a big participator in the online universe. That's part of why blogging was such a natural solution for me to document my journey to become a living kidney donor. I've been able to be open and candid about things involved with the process in ways I don't think I would have been in "real life".

I've always written this blog for me, and also for my friends and family. If others stumbled across it-great-but it wasn't the driving force behind my writing at the start. It was only really once Global TV contacted me and my blogging (and anything else "social media" or traditional media) was put on hold back in January that I realized fully the impact I could have (had) on raising awareness about living donation. It's something I am still committed to and passionate about.

I was reflecting the other day about how to measure my success at this-how will I feel like I've done "my part" in this. I was looking at my analytics looking for something that would tell me I was making some kind of a difference but I just wasn't finding it.  I went back and re-read some of my old posts, from back around the time where I was starting to really become an advocate of the living donor process. At the time, I said I would be happy even if a handful of people became aware that it was a possibility whether or not they donated. And then it hit me-I've already done that.

I have a bit of a confession. I didn't entirely stop using social media to talk about my plans to donate prior to my kidney donation surgery. I didn't blog (that was far too public and definitely against what we thought the rules were). But sometime in the spring I cracked and started to hint at things via Facebook. I was often cryptic and was mindful not to give too many details (although my account is locked down with strong privacy settings). It was enough sharing that I felt like my family and friends knew what was going on, I had some support and I wasn't totally offside on the rules. What it also did was set the stage for something pretty cool to happen.

In the marketing world we often talk about "impressions"-the number of people who may have seen or heard the message you are trying to convey, consciously or subconsciously. It's kind of a hard thing to measure but there is a value to it. The night before my surgery  three of my friends (with no overlapping friends other than me and no connection to one another) on Facebook made a point of posting what I was about to do as their status. I did the math-this meant that upwards of 1500 impressions (their friends) may have been made about the possibility of living organ donation. I know at least 50 actively became aware because of the comments and "likes" they shared.  1500 people across Canada and even parts of Europe and Asia (as one of those friends is travelling abroad for a year). That's a lot of people.

I still don't feel like I'm done with this yet. I want to do more for donor advocacy and awareness. I hope I can be of help in some way to the program at Foothills (or even Alberta as a whole...or Canada?!?). Yet again I am amazed at the power of social media for spreading information in a way I never would have been able to do even ten years ago as a regular, everyday average person. Pretty cool.

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