Saturday, September 02, 2006

Russian Blog Saves Lives

Here's a nice story, for a change, about how weblogs are helping to save lives in Russia:
She is one of the most popular users of the LiveJournal, or JJ in Russian abbreviation. Almost 3,500 people are permanent readers of her Internet Diary. Olga went into charity about two years ago. The same LiveJournal encouraged her to go for it.

"The first case started with a request, which I came across in the LiveJournal. A single mother with four children needed money urgently. A fund-raising campaign was a huge success. Later on, another user of LiveJournal needed money, and we collected it for him, too. This is how it all started. After some time, we gained a reputation, and more users," Olga recalls.

A year ago, Vladik Kuzmin, a small boy with a cancerous tumor from Khabarovsk appeared in her life. Olga does not remember exactly how his parents contacted her. But this is not so important after all. Raising solid funds started with his case. During his short life the boy went through several operations in Russia, but to no avail. Russian doctors acknowledged that his tumor was inoperable, but their Japanese colleagues volunteered to try and save the boy. But they asked for about $300,000. Olga started her search for money. But she soon found out that the whole sum was not necessary. German doctors learnt about Vladik from the Internet, through the same LiveJournal, and said that the treatment would be by an order less. Volunteers contacted the hospital, prepared the required papers, and in late August Vladik went through a successful operation, and will soon return home. The Internet community has saved his life.

"The expenses for Vladik's treatment were brought down from $300,000 to $35,000. We collected even more than needed. All in all, we raised about $75,000 to help Vladik and other children. And this is just through my modest blog.