Patient receives liver transplant after social media campaign

A Canadian woman is thought to have become the fi rst patient to receive a new vital organ from an unrelated, altruistic donor who answered an appeal launched via social media.

Lucia Andrade, 61, of Brampton, Ontario, underwent liver transplantation last November, but her family waited to be sure that it was a success before telling their story last week. Andrade had primary biliary cirrhosis and had been on an offi cial donor waiting list. Members of her family had been tested for compatibility, but her O-negative blood type ruled out most likely donors. Her condition was deteriorating rapidly when her youngest son, Michael, 22, appealed for help on the social media sites Facebook and Tumblr.

His Tumblr page, called liverdonor4mom, recounted the sacrifi ces his mother had made for her children, described her symptoms, and outlined the testing procedure that any respondent would have to go through. It also asked readers to share the post with others by linking to it from their own sites. Hundreds did so, including some local celebrities.

“I don’t want to lose my mother, especially without me trying everything I can do to save her,” wrote Michael. “She’s done so much for me, the least I can do is spread the word and try to fi nd a donor for her.” One of these links was seen by an Ontario student, Graeme McNaughton, 23, on the website Reddit. A cousin of McNaughton who had been on a transplant waiting list had died fi ve years ago, and he said that he resolved to do what he could if the opportunity arose to help someone in a similar plight.

He offered to undergo testing and proved to be a match. After reassuring his parents, he underwent surgery to remove 65% of his liver. Surgeons estimated the donor’s risk of death at 0.3%. At his age the missing liver tissue is expected to grow back fully