That being the case, Zuckerberg and Facebook announced May 1 that the social networking site has an option available for its users to indicate their organ donor status on their accounts.
Users simply go to their timeline, click on the Life Event feature, move over to the Health and Wellness area, and then choose the Organ Donor option to include it in their profile. Facebook users that have not already registered to be donors down the road will be directed when switching their status to organ donor to a donor Web site in their area where they will be able to register online.
While some privacy concerns are likely to arise, Facebook points out that the feature can be kept private or just for friends.
An Average of 18 People Die Daily Awaiting a New Organ
According to a statement from Zuckerberg, “More than 114,000 people in the United States, and millions more around the globe, are waiting for the heart, kidney or liver transplant that will save their lives. Many of these people – an average of 18 people per day – will die waiting, because there simply aren’t enough organ donors to meet the need. Medical experts believe that broader awareness about organ donation could go a long way toward solving this crisis. And we believe that by simply telling people that you’re an organ donor, the power of sharing and connection can play an important role.”
While such data typically appears on one’s driver’s license, this is the first time that I can remember a major social media venue offering such a feature.
According to some organ donation experts, the largest impact from the Facebook move may be that towards individuals volunteering to be living organ donors.
According to one doctor, “Living donation represents the largest potential for increasing the donor pool. In the past 20 years, living donor kidney transplantation has tripled, from approximately 2,000 in 1990 to well over 6,000 in 2004. Growth of living donation has been minimal since then.”
While Facebook has at times gotten involved in social issues in the past, such as the campaign to rally against bullying, the company has not been at the social forefront of such moves most of the time.
According to David Fleming, president and CEO of Donate Life America, a partner in the organ donation campaign with Facebook, “The Facebook partnership is an opportunity for people to share decisions. The most important part of this is actually registering to be a donor so that your wishes can be carried out. Sharing that decision through Facebook is an opportunity to encourage your friends and family to also register.”
So, would you feel comfortable going on your Facebook page and registering as an organ donor?