Social media spotlight: Facebook organ donation feature prompts thousands to sign up
The feature was announced last week and by the end of its first day 100,000 people had declared themselves organ donors on their Facebook profiles, with ten percent of those actively signing up with their local registries. According to Donate Life America, a non-profit group partnering with Facebook, California alone witnessed a 700 percent increase over the number of volunteers on a typical day.
In America, 18 people die every day from lack of available organs, and while 90 percent of Americans support donation, only 42 percent are registered. This initiative – inspired by the late Steve Jobs’ health battles and heart-wrenching stories from Zuckerberg’s paediatrician girlfriend – has been heralded as a ‘game changer’ by surgeons and transplant advocates.
“I think it’s possible that we will see an impact over the next couple of years, where we would imagine eliminating the transplant waiting list,” Dr. Andrew Cameron, a transplant surgeon at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who helped bring the idea to Facebook, told ABC News.
Experts believe the feature will also increase the speed by which donor organs could be harvested, as delays usually come from family members debating the wishes of their deceased relative. Now, a user adding this option to their profile will be making their requests clear.
Presently, the feature is only available to users in the US and UK and can be added by selecting ‘Organ Donor’ from the ‘Health and Wellness’ section in the ‘Life Event’ menu. There’s a short form to fill in, and direct links to local registries if the user is not formally registered as an organ donor.
David Fleming, Chief Executive of Donate Life America, said that the response “dwarfs any past organ donation initiative”, signalling the social networking giant’s powers for positive, real-life change. Could further initiatives be in the pipeline?