Organ donation advocates are hoping a pop star’s story will inspire others to give.
On Thursday, Selena Gomez revealed on Instagram she received a kidney transplant earlier this summer after the autoimmune disease, Lupus, caused her kidneys to fail.
“When I saw that, I thought: that’s bringing really good awareness to kidney disease because I don’t think many people know a lot about it,” said Nicole Wuetherick, a 20-year-old kidney disease survivor.
Wuetherick was born with congenital kidney disorder that caused her kidneys to fuse together in the womb. By the time she was four, she was in kidney failure and required dialysis. At the age of 12, Wuetherick received a kidney transplant.
“Now that I have a kidney, I can do more things. I feel better.”
According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, there are nearly 3,500 people across the country currently waiting for a kidney transplant.
“When someone like Selena Gomez, who has 126 million followers on Instagram, is willing to talk about organ donation and share her own experience, it certainly is going to get other people talking and that is what we need,” said Joyce Van Deurzen, executive director for the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Southern Alberta Branch.
“Gomez received a transplant because one of her friends stepped forward to become a living donor. We really encourage people to think about it and consider becoming a living donor.”
Currently, half of all kidney donations in Canada come from living donors. According to the foundation, live donation is associated with better survival rates because the kidneys often last longer and are usually healthier.
The influence of celebrity can be powerful.
When Angelina Jolie went public about having a gene mutation linked to breast cancer, interest in genetic testing skyrocketed. When Charlie Sheen revealed he was HIV-positive, sales of an at-home HIV test quickly doubled.
For more information on how to become an living kidney donor, visit the Kidney Foundation’s website.