Can The Social Web Save Amit Gupta?

This post was originally published on 10/25 at Pixels & Pills and is republished with permission.

amitgupta

by Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)

Amit Gupta is dying.

And the tech world is rallying to help.

This makes sense, right, he’s a tech guy, protégé of Seth Godin, and founder of PhotoJoJo, and his community wants to help him. They want to heal him. By any means necessary.

Several months ago, as part of Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored in New York, Jennifer Aaker, of Stanford Univeristy, gave an inspiring presentation called “The Dragonfly Effect : How Ideas Take Flight.” The presentation was about how one can inspire infectious action. I thought of that talk, as I listened to Seth and Amit being interviewed on The Takeaway.

In her presentation, Professor Aaker shares the story of two other Indian men who, like Amit Gupta, found themselves struck with leukemia. Who, like Amit, needed bone marrow transplants to survive. Between 2006 and 2007, Robert Chatwani found that two of his friends, Sameer Bhatia and Vinay Chakravarthy, had been diagnosed with leukemia. And that without bone marrow transplants, they were going to die.

For a marrow transplant to even have a chance of being effective, the match needs to be near perfect – 10/10. Out of all the people who have submitted samples of their DNA to the National Marrow Donor Program in the US, only 20% of those people are minorities. And only 1% of them are of South Asian descent. So the chance for a match for a person of South Asian descent, the chances of a match are 1 in 20,000.

Read it again. 1 in 20,000.

Robert used his tech savvy and used his social networks to register over 20,000 South Asians, across the US, to add their names to the registry. He found matches for his friends. The full story of how he used social networks in conjunction with traditional media and education to drive registration is embedded below. The ending, is not one of fairy tales.

While Robert registered 24,611 people, and while 266 people were matched, aside from his two friends, there are still few South Asians registered.

And there’s no match for Amit.

So Amit’s mentor, his friend, took it one step further.

Seth Godin is offering $10,000 to the person who’s a match for Amit. Not to the person who donates to Amit, but to the person who swabs and is a match. The hope would be, of course, that the match would choose to donate. The hope is that the possibility of being a match, and receiving $10,000 from Seth, would be enough of an incentive to drive loads of people to register their DNA with the National Marrow Donor Program.

But it raises some ethical questions.

There is a 1984 statute against, basically, buying and selling donations. The idea being that if the rich can buy donations, the poor will never stand a chance.

So, what do you think? Is Seth’s offer of $10,000 to the first to match ethical? In a world as connected as the one we live in, is it wrong to use any resource at your fingertips to help a friend? Would you do it?

If you’d like to register with the National Marrow Donor Program, you can do so here. No matter your ethnicity, it is possible you could save a life.