SMS and social media platforms, like the Text to Change platform, have become major conduits through which lives can be saved. On Sunday, 11th December 2011, the life of a Dutch woman in Kampala was saved, thanks to a very efficient emergency response from the Dutch embassy and Text to Change.
The woman who was doing a medical internship in Tanzania and visiting friends in Uganda was involved in a serious accident in Kampala from which she sustained severe injuries, fractures and a serious loss of blood. She was transferred to a clinic from where it was discovered that she was in dire need of blood, a rare blood type, O negative. Therefore, the Dutch embassy in Kampala and Text to Change sent out an emergency SMS to the Dutch community with a request to help donate this rare blood type in order to save the woman’s life. In addition to the SMS, a message was posted on several Facebook pages. This combination of media made the news spread rapidly and within a period of one hour, almost 20 people contacted the clinic and within several hours the woman received blood from 4 fellow Dutch people. The clinic has a database of donors, but on this day there were not enough donors with the rare blood type available within or near Kampala.
The 4 donors appeared to be sufficient to stabilize the woman’s life making it secure for her to be transferred to a hospital in Nairobi in neighboring country Kenya for further treatment. At the moment she is still in Nairobi, awaiting transfer to the Netherlands. She's severely wounded and has a complicated fracture but she's stable. Our thoughts go out to the woman, her friends and family!
This action proves the enormous power of communication tools like social media and SMS, as being effective and readily available tools to save lives. The Dutch Embassy and Text to Change launched the emergency SMS platform just before election in February 2011, to inform the Dutch community about riots and possible unrest in Uganda.