NEW YORK: Staffers at Ogilvy PR and across the industry have been rushing to find a liver donor for a desperately ill colleague.
The effort has drawn national media attention, as well as concern by organ donor groups over whether the campaign might be overzealous in its tactics.
At press time, Shari Kurzrok, 31, was in the intensive care unit of New York University Medical Center, having been stricken by an unknown disease that destroyed her liver.
While Kurzrok is on a transplant waiting list, she can also receive a directed donation from the family of an individual who recently died.
Kym White, MD in Ogilvy's New York office, noted that the focus has been on finding a liver for Kurzrok as well as raising awareness of organ donation overall. "Shari, unfortunately, has become the face of what is a larger issue," she said.
In their quest, Kurzrok's family and friends proposed on a website, www.liverforalife.com, that fliers be distributed to emergency rooms, as well as police and fire departments.
The tactic drew concern from the New York Organ Donor Network, which promptly sent e-mails clarifying best practices to area hospitals.
"What we've learned is that families, when they're in crisis, if they're approached the wrong way, are just as likely to say no," said Elisabeth Gabrynowicz, director of external affairs at the United Network for Organ Sharing, which holds the national transplant list. "That could have the opposite effect on organ donation."
White noted that everyone involved in the effort has been "learning - and adapting accordingly - as we go along. With good intentions, there are some individuals who may have crossed a line."
She added that the PR community is very concerned about Kurzrok, and the effort to find a liver has been a "24-hour operation."
"So many people have helped get Shari's story out far and wide, and we are enormously grateful for everyone's help and support," White said.