San Francisco resident Amit Gupta was diagnosed with leukemia last fall, and he desperately needed a bone marrow transplant. Instead of just accepting his diagnosis, he decided to use his social media skills to raise his chances of finding a willing donor. Gupta, a Web entrepreneur who created the startups Photojojo and Jelly, looked for a donor with a post on Tumblr. Now, four months later, thanks to his own determination, the support of caring friends and strangers, and help from social media, he has found a match.
In his posts, Gupta also gave detailed information about his background, what he's gone through after chemotherapy, and what to expect after the bone marrow transplant. When he started blogging about his disease, Gupta knew the odds were not in his favor. Gupta is of South Asian descent, and according to the American Bone Marrow Registry, the odds of a South Asian person finding a perfect "10 out of 10" match is 1 in 20,000. But after more than 7,000 reblogs, countless tweets, 100 bone marrow donor drives, and even an art exhibit, Gupta succeeded. In an update on Tumblr, he thanked everyone who helped him by saying, "You all literally helped save my life." Gupta realizes there is a long road of treatment and recovery ahead of him, but he remains optimistic, saying, "A few months ago, I didn't have any options. Today I have a plan." Gupta arrives at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute today to begin his four- to five-week treatment. He plans to continue blogging about his recovery as his treatment progresses.
Unfortunately, not all pleas for help are legitimate. A woman in Colorado is also benefiting from the kindness of others, but her cancer diagnosis was a fabrication. Jennifer Stover, a 35-year-old hospice worker, decided to fake having uterine cancer in 2008. While Stover worked at Collier Hospice in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, she allegedly told her co-workers that she was battling cancer and was going through "experimental treatments." She solicited funds from good Samaritans to help with "cancer treatment and expenses" and ended up swindling more than $30,000 from 16 victims. A Jefferson County grand jury indicted Stover on charitable fraud and the theft of $20,000 or more. The indictment further states that Stover has never had cancer, nor has she ever been medically treated for cancer. The jig was up in 2010, when Stover needed verification for her medical absence, and instead of providing it, she resigned. Tuesday, her bail was posted at $5,000, but she made bond and was released.