WATSONVILLE -- Robbie Carroll, 14, and sister Jazzy, 10, took their cue from the Facebook trend of acquiring 1 million "likes" to earn a puppy or a new car.
But the Carrolls' inspiration for their posting aimed at raising awareness about organ donation and congenital heart disease was their father, Patrick, who died in April of complications after a heart transplant.
They posted their request at 3:33 p.m. Monday at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Patricks-Long-Road-Ahead/148194351889449, and by Friday, nearly three-quarters of a million people had hit the like button. More than 3,500 had posted comments.
"We're OK with what we have," said Robbie, a Watsonville High School freshman. "We have a puppy, and we're not old enough to drive so we thought why not raise awareness for donation."
Since their father died, the siblings have been on a mission to call attention to the plight of people waiting for transplants. They've done school reports on organ donation, and for his 14th birthday in November, Robbie turned a collection of still photographs of himself holding signs telling his father's story and urging people to sign up for donation into a video and posted it on YouTube.
This week, they also established a Facebook page, 2 Kids for Organ Donation, http://www.facebook.com/2KidsForOrganDonation?ref=ts&fref=ts.
"It feels like we're doing something right and it's helping people," said Jazzy, a fifth-grader at Linscott Charter School.
Their efforts took on new urgency last week, when in training for lacrosse, Robbie experienced chest pain. He's since seen a doctor and been referred to a cardiologist. He has an appointment next month.
Samantha Carroll, Robbie and Jazzy's mother, said her children's outreach effort is helping heal their grief.
Patrick Carroll was born with a heart defect that transposed his aorta and pulmonary artery. Though he had surgery as an infant to fix the problem, and several more over the years, his heart weakened. In 2010, he was put on a transplant list, and had the surgery in March 2012.
The heart transplant, Carroll told the Sentinel in 2010, would give him a "whole new life." He lived 35 days after the surgery.
In his video, Robbie says he will be forever grateful to the donor and the grieving family for giving his father "a fighting chance."
Inspired by his father, his father's doctors and other transplant recipients, Robbie plans to become a cardiothoracic surgeon one day. He's confident he can make that plan a reality. In the meantime, he's doing what he can, and grabs every chance to get out the message.
"Go to donatelifecalifornia.org to sign up to be donor," he urged. "All you have to do is be 13 with your parent's consent. The morning I turned 13, I did."
Follow Sentinel reporter Donna Jones on Twitter at Twitter.com/DonnaJonesSCS