Ogilvy staffer receives liver transplant from waiting list

NEW YORK: It was a happy ending to the PR community?s desperate quest to find a liver for a critically ill colleague.

NEW YORK: It was a happy ending to the PR community?s desperate quest to find a liver for a critically ill colleague.

But amid the cheers and good wishes, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is emphasizing the message that Shari Kurzrok ultimately received a transplant because of the "standard operation" of the waiting list, not the campaign waged by her media savvy colleagues at Ogilvy PR, and throughout the industry.

Two days after the transplant, UNOS, which holds the national transplant waiting list, acknowledged in a statement the "considerable media attention" focused on Kurzrok, and clarified how organs are distributed.

"This really boils down to public trust," said Elisabeth Gabrynowicz, UNOS director of external affairs. "We want people to understand that there's a system in place to make sure [organs are distributed] fairly and accurately."

UNOS in December issued a formal opposition to organ solicitation ? the practice of individuals using the media or the internet to find their own donors ? and asked hospitals to discourage matches made between strangers.

"It's a complex issue because directed donations are not illegal," Gabrynowicz said. "Usually it's a personal relationship. What we're seeing now [is that] people are certainly taking it to the next level."

Kym White, MD in Ogilvy's New York office, noted that the effort helped draw attention to the 89,000 people on the transplant list.

"Our campaign had no impact on whether or when Shari received her transplant," she said. "[But] I think we've helped many patients whose names we'll never know."

UNOS and Ogilvy stayed in contact throughout the effort, with UNOS providing statistics that were posted on a website for Kurzrok.

White noted that Ogilvy staffers had worked tirelessly for their coworker. "There was so much energy and so much effort," she said. "It can be frustrating to sit back and realize there's nothing else to do."

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