With all the voices in the online world, it’s sometimes hard to know whether your own is making a difference. WordPress users alone produce some 47.8 million posts per month, along with 62.4 million comments. At Kickstarter, people have raised $577 million in funding for their ideas to change the world. Over at Change.org, you can join 186 million signers of petitions seeking to better their communities and lives all around.
A few weeks ago, I signed s petition to save a life at change.org. The situation was dire: Sarah Murnaghan, a ten-year-old girl in the end stages of cystic fibrosis, needed a lung transplant. She’d been in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for three months, and only had a few weeks left to live. She was a top candidate to receive a set of children’s lungs in her region, but none were available. Although eligible to receive adult lungs, because Sarah was under 12, she would only be considered after all of the adult candidates, regardless of how sick they were—a epolicy was created by the Organic Procurement Transplantation Network (OPTN).
The family petitioned Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for an exemption; that request was initially denied. Even as friends and family gathered to say goodbye to her at the end of May, they refused to give up hope and put up a petition asking users to speak up for a policy change. I signed it; so did 373,275 other people. Local politicians took up the issue, pleading for Sarah’s case. The following week, a federal judge granted Sarah and another child with end-stage cystic fibrosis a temporary restraining order, allowing them to be considered for an adult long transplant.
Last week, the OPTN board passed a resolution that created a special appeals process allowing children under 12 to be considered for the adult lung transplant list on a case-by-case basis. Days later, Sarah got her lung transplant. She just woke out of her coma a few days ago.
Is it weird to say that I felt proud for helping this girl? Well, I did. It was just one click—but my one click and your one click and hundreds of thousands of single clicks en masse rallied the public, drawing attention to the story and piling on the pressure for change. I told my children the story, I showed them the petition and explained how together, people really can accomplish Big Things.
There’s an old Talmudic phrase “Anyone who has saved a single life, it’s as if he saved a whole world.” Here’s the modern interpretation: Anyone who’s clicked to save a life, it’s as if he’s clicked to save the whole world.
Image: Screen grab, Huffington Post