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A few See Problems, but Founder of Nonprofit Cites Its Successes
Somewhere in the air between New York City and Denver last March, Linda Chalson's sister was thumbing through a People magazine when a story on page 127, "Kidneys Online," caught her eye.
She learned that people in need of transplants were finding living donors by means of a Web site called MatchingDonors.com.
Chalson, 58, had waited two years for a kidney. Her sister called her regarding the Web site when the plane touched down.
That month, 30-year-old Matthew Bowers of Colorado Springs also thumbed through the magazine. His eyes widened at the story.
He said, "I never knew you could be a living donor until I read that article."
Curiosity led the two strangers to visit the Web site and finally post personal profiles there, one of need and one of an eagerness to give. Four weeks ago, the healthy father of two gave his kidney to the retired New York City schoolteacher. The two formed a friendship in the procedure.
Such match ups are increasingly common. For would-be recipients, the Web is a way to broadcast a plea rather than relying on the federal government's United Network for Organ Sharing list, which allocates organs based on a series of factors, primarily how sick someone is.
Possible donors, in turn, find out how they can assist people who require organs that are in short supply nationally.
Bowers said, "Linda is going to get to see her grandkids graduate high school."
The Internet approach also raises ethical questions, such as whether the sickest are overlooked for the well informed, and whether the Internet provides a venue for illegal organ selling. MatchingDonors.com founder and chief executive officer Paul Dooley said the nonprofit site is widely accepted by doctors and ethicists, with success stories outnumbering concerns.
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