Let’s talk about Bronfman.
Bronfman is an absolute musical badass, and I mean that in more ways than just one. From the very moment he walked onto the stage, he commanded complete attention.
Every time his fingers graced the keys, I marvelled at how such an intense and serious (looking) man could play Beethoven so delicately and lightly. Truly inspiring…
Today, I went to my first VSO concert of the 2013/2014 season (in celebration of the end of my midterms). They opened the program with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No.3. The orchestra’s sound was so dazzling and warm; just the afterthought of it brings a smile to my face.
This is the Vienna Philharmonic in 1944 conducted by Furtwangler.
"I bet if we dusted her heart for fingerprints, we’d only find yours."
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around"
Can Asians save Classical music?
Author: Michael Ahn Paarlberg
Source: Slate | February 2012
"What do symphony orchestras and cigarette companies have in common? It’s the age problem. How do you stay in business when your customers keep dying?
For orchestras, at least it’s not their product that’s lethal, though it might as well be. With the median age of concertgoers rising, fewer than one in 10 adults reported attending a classical concert in 2008, according to a periodic survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, a 28 percent drop since 1982. The financial state of orchestras today is roughly comparable to that of Blockbuster Video post-Netflix. Ticket sales are dropping; layoffs and bankruptcies abound. In the past two years, the Honolulu, Syracuse, and New Mexico orchestras closed up shop entirely; the Philadelphia Orchestra, long revered as one of the five best in the country, filed for Chapter 11 protection in April.
But there is one group that still likes classical music and, what’s more, pays to hear it performed: Asians. Of Asian-Americans ages 18-24 responding to the same survey, 14 percent reported attending a classical concert in the past year, more than any other demographic in that age group. Despite classical’s deserved reputation as the whitest of genres, Asian attendance rates match or surpass the national average up through the 45- 54 age range. To put it one way, the younger the classical audience gets, the more Asian it becomes. To put it another, the only population that is disproportionately filling seats being vacated by old people dying off is Asians.
This reflects what can be observed at most American concert halls today: a sea of white hair, broken only by the black, unflattering bowl cut given to all Asian kids by their parents, who have dragged them to the symphony for their cultural enrichment. I know because I was one of those kids. I’m a hapa (mixed-race) Korean-American, with an American father and Korean mother. At age 5, I was given a quarter-size violin. Private lessons followed, with regular trips to the Kennedy Center to see the National Symphony Orchestra. By 12, I was concertmaster of my school orchestra and performing solo recitals. For a time, it was fun. At no point did I feel I had much of a choice in the matter.
“Music is a huge part of life for most Asian families,” says violinist Sarah Chang. “Most Asian children I know start taking violin, piano, or cello lessons from an early age.” If this sets them apart socially from their non-Asian classmates, Asian parents largely do not care. Their determination to raise musical kids can be single-minded and severe. One memorable passage in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has Amy Chua threatening her daughter during piano practice: “If the next time’s not perfect, I’m going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them!” In Musicians From a Different Shore, University of Hawaii professor and pianist Mari Yoshihara describes her upbringing in postwar Japan. At the time, a confluence of mass production, rising incomes, and shrinking apartment sizes brought millions of upright pianos into urban households, where they became an emblem of middle-class status. Through her years of practice, she writes, “I never asked myself why I was learning music or whether I even liked playing the piano. Such questions never even occurred to me. Music was not something I had the option of liking or not liking; it was just there for me to do.”
“There was a time when practically every major soloist was Jewish,” says violinist Joshua Bell. “Every Jewish kid grew up wanting to play the violin. Now it’s true among Asians.” (Or at least among Asian parents.) This shift became apparent within conservatories and orchestras in the 1970s, when the ranks of Eastern European and Jewish musicians, who had long dominated the field, began to decline, while those of Asians started to swell. Asians make up just over 4 percent of the U.S. population, but 7 percent of U.S. orchestra musicians are Asian, and the figure rises to 20 percent for top orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic. At the elite Julliard School for music, one in five undergraduates—and one in three Ph.D. students—is Asian.
A word of caution: “Asian” in the American context encompasses a broad geography spanning Pakistan to Indonesia and including everyone ranging from fresh-off-the-boat immigrants to third-generation Asian-Americans and adoptees. In reality, the Asian classical phenomenon does not extend much beyond China, Japan, and Korea. Yet for East Asians at least, classical music is a genuine common thread, albeit a relatively young one. Its presence in the region goes back little more than a century, to the military bands brought to Japan by Commodore Perry’s opening. The early association of Western music with military discipline and modernization set a precedent. Classical music became an aspirational totem for both newly industrializing Asian countries, whose governments subsidized music schools and orchestras, and parents, for whom having a musician in the family was marker of success.
But not just any musician. Asian and Asian-American performers gravitate almost exclusively to strings and piano: Those instruments which, within a genre that symbolizes class mobility in Asia, are at the top of the heap. Rarely does one encounter an Asian conservatory student playing the bassoon or trombone, or any instrument that does not afford the possibility of soloist superstardom.
The prestige Asians ascribe to classical music is, it should be noted, completely disproportionate to the actual salaries earned by professional musicians. And the Asian juggernaut has yet to move much beyond the orchestra pit. One area in which Asians do not dominate, Yoshihara notes, is orchestra management, which remains overwhelmingly white. The boards of most performing arts organizations are made up of wealthy corporate donors, who tend to recruit managers and other board members from within their own social circles. And in contrast to celebrity musicians like Yo-Yo Ma and Lang Lang, Asians haven’t made much headway into conducting or composing. Asian music education is not famous for its music theory. The Suzuki method, Asia’s most successful classical music export, is a highly mechanical training regimen based on drills and rote memorization, with no emphasis on “feeling” the music. It lends itself best to the equally mechanical works of the Baroque period, less to the Romantic era and not at all to contemporary classical.
However circumscribed the music may be, Asia is one place where classical artists can be genuine pop stars in ways long forgotten in Europe and North America. “Whenever I play in Korea, I feel like I’m at a rock concert,” says Bell. If there’s any irony to the most quintessentially Western music tradition being kept alive by the East, by now it’s a moot point. Classical music is as Asian as tempura and Spam. Even if it eventually dies in the West, it will have an Asian afterlife, much in the way washed-up American rock bands can still pack stadiums in Manila.
Classical music probably won’t ever disappear completely from our shores. If it survives, it will be thanks in large part to continued Asian immigration and an audience that is increasingly imported. Faced with the unenviable task of trying to make the most hidebound of music traditions hip and relevant to kids, the survival strategy of orchestras has mostly been to throw up their hands and pray that their remaining season ticket-holders cling to life another year. Instead, they might prepare for a future in which their subscribers look a lot different than they do today, and cultivate leadership, outreach and programming which reflect that.
As for me, I eventually grew tired of the violin and stopped playing. But I never lost my love for Mozart and Mahler. It’s said that playing an instrument as a child is the greatest predictor of concert attendance as an adult. So I still go to those same concert halls I went to as a kid. Only now, I no longer have the bowl cut, and I attend by choice.”
Want to Get Rid of Teenage Loiterers? Blast Some Beethoven.
Author: Justin Peters
Source:: Slate | October 2013
I was initially torn between being offended and being amused, but frankly, there is something fundamentally wrong with this concept. To me, it’s highly unbefitting…
"The city of Anchorage is looking for ways to keep shiftless teenagers and other nogoodniks from having sex and smoking synthetic marijuana in a prominent public park. One of the potential solutions: setting up speakers and blasting Bach and Beethoven at all hours of the day. The beautiful-music-as-teen-repellent strategy is familiar, if a bit offensive. (The critic Norman Lebrecht has criticized the tactic as “culturally reckless, profoundly demeaning to one of the greater glories of civilization.”) How did classical music become a weapon against juvenile delinquency? And do teenagers actually hate classical music as much as authorities think they do?
In her fascinating book Music in American Crime Prevention and Punishment, Lily E. Hirsch notes that we have Canada to thank for the orchestral-assault technique. In 1985, 7-Eleven managers in British Columbia pioneered the aggressive use of classical music as a way to deter Canadian teenagers from loitering in their stores’ parking lots. The strategy worked—the teenagers chose to take their loitering elsewhere—and cities around the world began to follow suit. After transit officials began piping classical music through the London underground, robberies dropped by 33 percent. In 2001, cops in West Palm Beach, Fla., started blaring Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart at a notoriously crime-ridden intersection. “The troubled corner showed marked improvement with the launch of programmed classical music there,” reports Hirsch, “despite a brief pause of three weeks after vandals removed speaker wires and destroyed the building’s electrical meter.”
Which composers are best-suited for crowd-control purposes? In a 2005 piece, Los Angeles Times writer Scott Timberg noted that “despite a few assertive, late-Romantic exceptions like Mussorgsky and Rachmaninoff, the music used to scatter hoodlums is pre-Romantic, by Baroque or Classical-era composers such as Vivaldi or Mozart.” A symphony official quoted in Hirsch’s book maintains that Baroque composers like Bach are best, because their use of counterpoint and polyphony is challenging and inaccessible.
But the strategy isn’t limited to classical music. In 1989 and early 1990, the U.S. Army played heavy metal music to try and force Manuel Noriega to emerge from the Vatican embassy in Panama. In 2006, a suburb of Sydney, Australia deployed the music of Barry Manilow to discourage teenage loitering. (Manilow, adorably, responded to the news by saying, “But have they thought that these hoodlums might like my music? … What if this actually attracts more hoodlums? What if it puts smiles on their faces?”) Sometimes, the sonic deterrents aren’t even musical in nature. In 2010, the owners of Washington, D.C.’s Gallery Place shopping complex briefly installed The Mosquito, an anti-loitering device that emitted “a very high-pitched, dull but annoying series of beeps” that could only be heard by people under 30. The device was removed after a local youth rights group filed an age-discrimination complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights.
In the aforementioned Los Angeles Times article, a composer wondered why unfamiliar music had such a negative effect on the nation’s youth. “Is the content of the music so unpleasant that they don’t want to be there?” he asked. “Or does the music create an environment that they would be embarrassed to be part of, because it’s not ‘cool’?” Both of those things are probably true to a certain extent, but it’s probably not that classical music is especially alienating. It’s that that any loud music that’s foreign to your cultural context can be alienating—play a Riff Raff album for your grandparents sometime if you don’t believe me. Also, there are plenty of potential loitering spots in any given town, and there’s no real reason to stick with the Bach parking lot if there are other viable options. That’s an important point, and one that officials in Anchorage would do well to note: These musical tactics don’t stopcrime and loitering so much as shift it around.”
Immunology will do that to you.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Brahms as of late… :)
(via composersillustrated; Richard C. Thompson)
Aurora… perfect princess.
Looks good on paper.
Source: The Economist | September 2013
"Disguised as employees of a gas company, a team of policemen burst into a flat in Beijing on September 1st. Two suspects inside panicked and tossed a plastic bag full of money out of a 15th-floor window. Red hundred-yuan notes worth as much as $50,000 fluttered to the pavement below.
Money raining down on pedestrians was not as bizarre, however, as the racket behind it. China is known for its pirated DVDs and fake designer gear, but these criminals were producing something more intellectual: fake scholarly articles which they sold to academics, and counterfeit versions of existing medical journals in which they sold publication slots.
As China tries to take its seat at the top table of global academia, the criminal underworld has seized on a feature in its research system: the fact that research grants and promotions are awarded on the basis of the number of articles published, not on the quality of the original research. This has fostered an industry of plagiarism, invented research and fake journals that Wuhan University estimated in 2009 was worth $150m, a fivefold increase on just two years earlier.
Chinese scientists are still rewarded for doing good research, and the number of high-quality researchers is increasing. Scientists all round the world also commit fraud. But the Chinese evaluation system is particularly susceptible to it.
By volume the output of Chinese science is impressive. Mainland Chinese researchers have published a steadily increasing share of scientific papers in journals included in the prestigious Science Citation Index (SCI—maintained by Thomson Reuters, a publisher). The number grew from a negligible share in 2001 to 9.5% in 2011, second in the world to America, according to a report published by the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China. From 2002 to 2012, more than 1m Chinese papers were published in SCI journals; they ranked sixth for the number of times cited by others. Nature, a science journal, reported that in 2012 the number of papers from China in the journal’s 18 affiliated research publications rose by 35% from 2011. The journal said this “adds to the growing body of evidence that China is fast becoming a global leader in scientific publishing and scientific research”.
In 2010, however, Nature had also noted rising concerns about fraud in Chinese research, reporting that in one Chinese government survey, a third of more than 6,000 scientific researchers at six leading institutions admitted to plagiarism, falsification or fabrication. The details of the survey have not been publicly released, making it difficult to compare the results fairly with Western surveys, which have also found that one-third of scientists admit to dishonesty under the broadest definition, but that a far smaller percentage (2% on average) admit to having fabricated or falsified research results.
In 2012 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an American journal, published a study of retractions accounting for nation of origin. In it a team of authors wrote that in medical journal articles in PubMed, an American database maintained by the National Institutes of Health, there were more retractions due to plagiarism from China and India together than from America (which produced the most papers by far, and so the most cheating overall). The study also found that papers from China led the world in retractions due to duplication—the same papers being published in multiple journals. On retractions due to fraud, China ranked fourth, behind America, Germany and Japan.
“Stupid Chinese Idea”
Chinese scientists have urged their comrades to live up to the nation’s great history. “Academic corruption is gradually eroding the marvellous and well-established culture that our ancestors left for us 5,000 years ago,” wrote Lin Songqing of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in an article this year in Learned Publishing, a British-based journal.
In the 1980s, when China was only beginning to reinvest in science, amassing publishing credits seemed a good way to use non-political criteria for evaluating researchers. But today the statistics-driven standards for promotion (even when they are not handed out merely on the basis of personal connections) are as problematic as in the rest of the bureaucracy. Xiong Bingqi of the 21st Century Education Research Institute calls it the “GDPism of education”. Local government officials stand out with good statistics, says Mr Xiong. “It is the same with universities.”
The most valuable statistic a scientist can tally up is SCI journal credits, especially in journals with higher “impact factors”—ones that are cited more frequently in other scholars’ papers. SCI credits and impact factors are used to judge candidates for doctorates, promotions, research grants and pay bonuses. Some ambitious professors amass SCI credits at an astounding pace. Mr Lin writes that a professor at Ningbo university, in south-east China, published 82 such papers in a three-year span. A hint of the relative weakness of these papers is found in the fact that China ranks just 14th in average citations per SCI paper, suggesting that many Chinese papers are rarely quoted by other scholars.
The quality of research is not always an issue for those evaluating promotions and grants. Some administrators are unqualified to evaluate research, Chinese scientists say, either because they are bureaucrats or because they were promoted using the same criteria themselves. In addition, the administrators’ institutions are evaluated on their publication rankings, so university presidents and department heads place a priority on publishing, especially for SCI credits. This dynamic has led some in science circles to joke that SCI stands for “Stupid Chinese Idea”.
The warped incentive system has created some big embarrassments. In 2009 Acta Crystallographica Section E, a British journal on crystallography, was forced to retract 70 papers co-authored by two researchers at Jinggangshan university in southern China, because they had fabricated evidence described in the papers. After the retractions theLancet, a British journal, published a broadside urging China to take more action to prevent fraud. But many cases are covered up when detected to protect the institutions involved.
The pirated medical-journal racket broken up in Beijing shows that there is a well-developed market for publication beyond the authentic SCI journals. The cost of placing an article in one of the counterfeit journals was up to $650, police said. Purchasing a fake article cost up to $250. Police said the racket had earned several million yuan ($500,000 or more) since 2009. Customers were typically medical researchers angling for promotion.
Some government officials want to buy their way to academic stardom as well: at his trial this month for corruption, Zhang Shuguang, a former railway-ministry official, admitted to having spent nearly half of $7.8m in bribes that he had collected trying to get himself elected to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Chinese reports speculated that he spent the money buying votes and hiring teams of writers to produce books. Widely considered to be a man of limited academic achievement, Mr Zhang ultimately fell just one vote short of election. Less than two years later, he was in custody.”
To Donate Your Kidney, Click Here.
A great piece about how social networking is changing the world of organ donation, for the better and possibly for the worse.
Author: Daniela Lamas
Source: The New Yorker | September 2013
"Many of us have seen the pictures of Sarah Murnaghan, a little girl with brown hair named sitting in a hospital bed with a machine strapped to her nose, forcing oxygen in and out of her lungs. She needed a lung transplant, but medical rules typically prevent children under twelve from receiving adult lungs—and pediatric lungs are rarely available. In May, 2013, Murnaghan’s family started a petition on the Web site change.org, asking the organ-allocation rule makers to reverse their policy. It led to a lawsuit in which a federal judge ruled in early June that Murnaghan should be eligible to join the adult transplant list. She received a pair of adult lungs a week later. The lungs failed, and she received another pair three days after that. Today, she’s alive and recovering.
Maybe you’ve also seen the video of a fifteen-year old boy named Anthony Stokes. He looked like a regular kid, but he was going to die without a heart transplant. His parents were told that he wasn’t a viable candidate, owing to vague concerns about “noncompliance.” Desperate, his parents turned to the media, and the story went viral. The hospital put the boy on the transplant list, and he got a new heart a week later. Or perhaps you’ve come across the Facebook profile of a man named Eddie Beatrice. Doctors told him that he might wait five years for a life-saving kidney transplant. He decided to advertise his plight on Facebook, and Eddie’s Kidney Kampaign was born. Almost immediately, he connected with the woman who would ultimately donate her kidney to him.
Patient stories have always driven change in medicine. But in the realm of organ-transplant allocation and social media, which suddenly makes it possible to find donors, promote exceptions to organ-allocation rules, and even force a hospital to reverse its medical judgment, the implications have some bioethicists and physicians squirming. How do we keep organ distribution from morphing into a popularity contest, where those with the most sympathetic stories win, or are allowed to change the rules?
“The obvious potential problem is that someone who’s smart or connected can make the system work for them in ways that other people without those advantages can’t,” Dan O’Connor, a Johns Hopkins researcher who studies the ethics of the exchange of medical information in online social networks, told me. “Whenever you’re using platforms like Facebook, the question is, what kind of person, what demographic profile has the time and energy and communication skills to make this work?”
It’s important to distinguish between an organ that can be given voluntarily by a living person and those that are harvested from an organ donor following death: the rules and lists people tend to associate with organ donation apply to organs from deceased donors. If you’re an organ donor, after you die, a complex algorithm is used to decide who gets your heart or lungs or liver or kidneys. Nearly a hundred and twenty thousand patients waiting for transplants are on a national list maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a private, nonprofit organization established by Congress to ensure equitable organ distribution. Rules are different for each organ, but the goal is to give the organ to the person who is sick enough to need a transplant, strong enough to survive the operation, and has demonstrated a willingness and capacity to adhere to a complex, lifelong medication regimen. While a “directed donation” to a certain individual after death is possible, it’s an infrequent occurrence, with approximately a hundred such donations each year.
The rules that determine who’s first in line for deceased donor organs scrupulously avoid the appearance of a popularity contest. Key ethical principles of distributive justice and equity tell us that donated organs should be made available based, first and foremost, on medical need. “ ‘Social utility’ is, quite deliberately, not part of the equation of need. In fact, convicted criminals are allowed on the organ-donor waiting list,” said Michael Shapiro, a transplant surgeon in New Jersey who is a member of the UNOS ethics committee.
Donations from living donors, in contrast, are a “Wild West,” said Jeffrey Cooper, a liver, kidney, and transplant surgeon at Tufts Medical Center. When you’re alive, your organs are your private property. In this case, autonomy, rather than distributive justice, is the driving ethical force. That is, if you want to give away a part of yourself, you get to choose who gets it.
Until recently, public solicitation for an organ transplant was a curiosity. In 1982, a desperate father found his way into an American Academy of Pediatrics meeting, where he pleaded for a liver transplant for his dying child; she got the transplant. In 2004, a young man named Todd Krampitz rented billboards on a Houston highway with his picture and the words “I need a liver, Please help save my life.” He, too, got a liver, from a deceased donor whose family had heard about his case and requested that the liver go to him, rather than to the national need-based list. (Around the same time, a Web site called MatchingDonors began as a way to link potential donors and recipients, and was featured in a 2009 New Yorker piece by Larissa MacFarquhar that explored the question of who would donate a kidney to a stranger.)
Today, Facebook is the new billboard. Jerry Wilde, a college professor in Indiana who suffers from a genetic syndrome that destroyed his kidneys, got his first kidney transplant in 1992 the old-fashioned way, by waiting on the list for a deceased-donor organ. Years later, doctors found a large tumor on the transplanted kidney, and Wilde was once again dependent on dialysis. Under pressure from far-flung family members who were curious about his medical condition, Wilde started posting updates on Facebook.
Leah Hostalet, a former student, was idly scrolling through her Facebook newsfeed when she came across one of his updates. He had been a favorite professor, and it occurred to her that his status updates weren’t enough to rustle up a transplant; to do so, she suspected, he needed a Facebook page to promote his cause. With his permission, the thirty-three-year-old elementary-school teacher “whipped up” the Find a Kidney for Jerry page in November, 2011. The goal, she said, was to “introduce Jerry to the world.”
“Jerry Wilde is a father, husband, friend, and an educator,” Hostalet wrote. “He is a dialysis patient in need of a kidney transplant. He needs someone to save his life.” Shortly thereafter, Wilde received a Facebook message from a woman who lived in his town, but whom he’d never met. She wanted to become his kidney donor. They corresponded on Facebook, and now her organ lives inside him.
Local news featured their story, and Hostalet found herself advising others on the kidney waiting list. In February of 2012, she created the Find a Kidney Central page on Facebook. It’s a repository of pages for people seeking kidneys, sorted by blood type and state. “If somebody has an amazing page, they’re probably more likely to find a donor quicker than somebody whose page isn’t as good,” said Hostalet, who sometimes rewrites personal descriptions, fixes punctuation, and insures that pages include photos and key details such as blood type, location, and transplant-center information. Now, Hostalet has three hundred and forty-six pages linked to her site. She’s seen sixty patients receive transplants, but can’t be sure how many of these were through donors found on the site.
Whether it’s Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s disease or Angelina Jolie and breast cancer, many diseases garner research dollars by virtue of a celebrity face. But in general advocacy efforts, you don’t have to be popular to benefit from progress in research; if the standard of care improves, everyone wins. In contrast, when it comes to organ transplants, one person’s win seems to be another’s loss. Some see this as a narrow-minded perspective. For instance, it’s equally possible that those who are able to elicit donors through effective social-media efforts draw in people who would not have donated otherwise. But, even if the number of donors has increased, is it fair that the Internet-savvy, the cute, and the connected stand to benefit most?
“What are the factors that come into play when people are looking online?” asked Cooper, the Tufts transplant surgeon. He recently co-authored an opinion piece in a scientific transplant journal arguing for greater oversight of online donor-matching networks. “How do you decide who lives and who dies? Are you looking for people who are more educated, or wealthier, or those who have a particular sexual preference?” The data is sparse. But a study published last year provides some worrisome evidence. Researchers at Loyola University examined ninety-one Facebook pages seeking kidney donations on a random day in October, 2011. They found that white patients and those with more than fifty posts—the most prolific pages, it seems—were more likely to have people come forward and get tested to see if they could donate.
“Social media has the potential to subvert the whole allocation system,” said Shapiro, the transplant physician who is a member of the UNOS ethics board. Shapiro chooses not to perform kidney transplants on donor-recipient pairs who met through online advertising. “It’s not hard to imagine that if you’re attractive and young and appealing, it’s easier to get people to donate to you than if you’re short or ugly or have a hunchback. And that’s not the way we want the system to work,” he said.
Andrew Cameron, a transplant surgeon at Johns Hopkins, takes a more moderate position. Recognizing that there is some inevitability to the use of social media to drive organ allocation, he has been trying to figure out how to help those for whom these tools are less instinctive or accessible. He and his colleagues are developing a smartphone application that will move physicians solidly into the arena of social networking to find organ matches. The goal, Cameron says, is to work with a software-engineering company, transplant ethicists, and patients to develop an app that standardizes the approach people use to promote themselves to prospective organ donors. In short, the app will offer a “template” for those in need of organs to tell their story, and will allow potential donors to link directly to the transplant center for further information, or to share the story with their Facebook circle.
Cameron started thinking about the link between Facebook and organ transplantation in 2011, when his former Harvard classmate Sheryl Sandberg (who was profiled in the magazine that year) approached him about whether Facebook could help to reduce the organ-donor shortage. On May 1, 2012, Facebook added an option that allowed users to “share” organ-donor status on their timelines, with a link to their state online donor registry. In a study published this June in the American Journal of Transplantation, Cameron and his colleagues reported that on that day, online organ-donor rates soared to twenty-one times the usual level. Registration declined in the following days, but, even two weeks later, remained double what they were before. For Cameron, this was a powerful lesson, suggesting that social networking might be the tool needed to address what he describes as the “refractory” public-health problem of inadequate organ-donor numbers. “We have the tools. It’s on us to effectively mobilize them,” he said.
That’s what Eddie Beatrice found out on his own, on New Year’s Day in 2013. His doctor had added him to the national waiting list, and encouraged Beatrice to ask his family and friends for a kidney, but hadn’t mentioned the Internet. Face-to-face conversations to ask for an organ are awkward, and Beatrice felt more at ease sending this missive into cyberspace: “Happy New Year! I badly need a kidney … I am trying real hard to live a regular life and support my family but it has been difficult … I am only 51 and still have a lot of life to live with my wife of 22+ years and two children … Please help me to start this New Year on a positive note.”
A little while later, Beatrice came upon a post from a woman in California looking to donate. He sent his information to her, and this past April, he received the transplant. Now, he is off dialysis, working for his own Internet sales and marketing company. The media frenzy surrounding his story has died down, but, from time to time, patients on the organ waitlist or their families still contact him for advice on how they, too, can use social media to find a living donor. Do your own research, he tells them. Keep a positive attitude. And most important? “Networking,” Beatrice says. “Networking, networking, and more networking.”
"I bet if we dusted her heart for fingerprints, we’d only find yours."