Although she didn't know it at the time, Hernandez had become part of a cutting-edge trend: peer-to-peer health care. Type the words "kidney donor" in Facebook's search engine, and you'll get some sense of the movement's scope: Hundreds of pages come up. One shows a middle-aged father of two, another a stylish Seattle newscaster. There's a 59-year-old grandmother and a 26-year-old woman who, according to her bio, "does not have much time left" if she doesn't receive a new kidney soon. Stories with happy endings have hit the news—like the one about the former mayor of East Haven, CT, who in 2010 donated a kidney to a constituent she had friended on Facebook.
Millions of Americans — one in five, a 2011 survey reported — turn to social media for health information. A study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that one in four Internet users with high blood pressure, diabetes, or other chronic conditions has gone online to find people with the same health problems.Read More