Friday, October 22, 2010

The Power Of One

I was recently reading a piece of fine literature (okay, it was chick lit), when I was reminded of something I learned back in high school. During painful sex education classes, one of the lessons we learned involved the sexual partner exposure chart (below, in case it isn’t as ingrained in your memory as mine!), which basically shows that partners in a given encounter are exposed not only to one another, but also to past partners, causing exponential growth of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.

Don’t worry (Mom, Dad, coworkers, brothers…), this post is not about promiscuity or STDs! Rather, it is about the premise of exponents that underlies this chart and the potential it affords someone (me!) wishing to spread a message (become an organ donor). Good news: messages can spread even faster than diseases! Similar to the manner in which rumors spread rapidly, a positive message can also permeate our communities and eventually, our society. This requires a concerted effort, yes, but not a cumbersome one. I recreated the sexual exposure chart as one depicting how quickly we can drive the message of organ donation. If each of you asks just three people to become organ donors and requests that they ask three people, and so on, we can make a considerable impact.

Let’s use a concrete example to see just how big of an impact we can make. Let’s assume 100 readers read and accept this challenge. Those 100 people each ask 3 people to become organ donors. Then, those 300 people each ask 3 more people to become donors. After one more layer of people accepts this challenge, we have collectively asked 2,700 people to become organ donors. Now, many of those people will have already chosen to donate, but many will not have even considered it. If about half of the people asked are already donors and the remaining people sign up, we will have enrolled 1,350 new organ donors in a very short amount of time with minimal effort.

It only takes a little imagination to consider the potential if we all asked 10 or 20 people instead of just 3. In a world of Facebook, Twitter and chain e-mails, it hardly seems a challenge to spread the message to our friends and family. The trick will be in motivating people we don’t know to continue the effort and propel the engine forward. We are very aware of the importance of organ donation, but most people don’t know someone who has been saved by this gift of life. A personal story helps, and I am open to suggestions on how to leverage my own. Should I write an e-mail that everyone can send to friends? Or do you want to refer people here to my blog? Should I enhance it with something special? Do you have other ideas? I welcome any and all thoughts! In the meantime, let’s see what kind of impact we can make because the power of one (you!) can be truly remarkable.

Visit Right from the homepage, you can select your state of residence, follow a couple of quick links and sign up. A single donor can save many lives, and it's such an easy choice to make.


  1. Hey! Since you mention facebook, doesn't blogspot have a facebook plugin?

    Might help get the message out if everyone can stick this on their profile!

  2. Oh, but the obvious fyi...

    Messages get momentum. If you put the facebook plugin up don't be surprised if it gets out there quicker than you expect...

    Maybe a double edged sword?

  3. This is the best pyramid scheme I've heard of in a long time! ; ) I think I'll link to your blog on my Facebood, if that's ok.

  4. Great chart. Since I don't have three friends (just kidding) I have begun ferociously volunteering as an Ambassador for Calif. Transplant Donor Network. I get to tell all kinds of folks about organ donation, and my own heart/kidney experience seems to get their attention. I never go out casually without transplant advertising on, like a shirt, hat, sandwich board, brochures, whatever.

  5. Andrea, you are an inspiration! We need to get your story and this special request, out to college students. How about letting your fraternity know and asking them to do this? Or, the alumni newsletter of your alma mater?

  6. Hi, I am with a magazine published out of Mobile, Alabama. We saw your image of the chart you created when researching Organ Donation. We were wondering if we could have permission to possibly publish your image along with an organ donation article. If you could contact me at