In our last blog post I wrote about the amazing chain of events that occurred when one man, Rick Ruzzamenti, decided to donate one of his kidneys.
His selfless donation led to 29 other kidney donations and linked together 60 donors and recipients in a long chain.
But there is another hero in that story who personally inspired me.
In the US, “donation reciprocity” is possible because many people in need of a transplant know someone who would like to donate to them, but can’t due to immunological incompatibility.
In these cases, it’s possible for the recipient to receive a compatible organ in exchange for their family or friend donating to another recipient.
But the challenge becomes how to get into the chain so that you can be matched with a compatible stranger.
Even if you have a friend or relative who is willing to give a reciprocal organ, it hasn’t always been easy to find that willing, matchable stranger.
This is where Garet Hil, a Long Island entrepreneur came in. Mr. Hil’s daughter was diagnosed with a genetic kidney-wasting disease and no one in their immediate family was a match.
So she was added to several kidney registries to try to find matches amongst strangers who are organ donors.
While Hil’s daughter later received a kidney from a family member, the frustration they experienced with the transplant registries led him to take action to solve the problem.
The Hils formed the National Kidney Registry in 2007. Because of his software experience, they were able to create a complex new software algorithm that matches donor-recipient pairs.
This has allowed for increased chain lengths and increased number of transplants – in 2011, Mr. Hil arranged 175 transplants, which is more than any other American registry.
This may help to put his challenge in some perspective – the donation-transplant chain started by Rick Ruzzamenti, our selfless hero in the last post, incorporated 60 people and 17 hospitals in 11 states and took four months to complete.
Mr. Hil coordinated all of these kidney matches and was able to keep the chain going, even when some donations fell through and new donors/recipients had to be obtained quickly at the last moment.
Mr. Hil’s ingenuity and success is particularly inspiring to me because it is just one example of how entrepreneurs can change the world.
The problem existed, people were willing to help in very big and moving ways, but it took a business-savvy entrepreneur to facilitate the process.
My personal business philosophy has always been that we should not just make a profit, but also make a difference in the world.
In keeping with that, we made a commitment at the beginning of 2011 that NICABM would donate $100,000 to charity within the year. Instead, we ended up giving $135,735. (We wrote a report of that in a previous blog post.)
This year, I hope for us to do much, much more.
Look for big things to come from NICABM this year – both in terms of creative programs and content that will empower you and your clients but also in terms of philanthropic donations that will hopefully change lives of people throughout the world.
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