Facebook Encourages Users to Become Organ Donors

Dennis Faas's picture

Facebook has unveiled a plan that it hopes will encourage people to register as organ donors. It's an important move, because less than half of all American adults are currently signed up as organ donors, leaving a shortage of organs for transplants.

At the moment, the most common way to formally consent to organ donation is to register when applying for a driver's license.

A doctor quoted by the New York Times said this wasn't the best situation for everyone, however, because drawing the connection between driving an automobile and donating organs makes for an eerie feeling. (Source: nytimes.com)

The idea behind the Facebook program is that people may be more likely to make the decision to donate if they are given more time to think about it in the comfort of their own home.

Facebook Organ Registry Won't Be "Official"

The Facebook program will take a two-step approach: First, it will give people direct links to official online donor registries run by the 50 U.S. states. Second, it will allows users to indicate their willingness to be a donor on their Facebook profile. (Source: fb.com)

There's still some question, however, about the legal status of using that second option.

Experts say there's a good chance posting a simple Facebook listing won't be enough to allow doctors to proceed with harvesting organs, particularly if the deceased's family objects.

A more likely scenario is that family members who may be uncertain about a person's intentions could check their Facebook profile to see if the deceased had posted a preference.

Organ Registry Program Offers Major Upside

It's possible the new Facebook registration option could bring exponential benefits to the organ transplant world.

For example, people who decide to add their name to donor registries may mention their actions on Facebook. This could create relevant discussions with online friends and, in turn, encourage more people to sign up for organ donation.

In effect, the idea of donating one's organs after death could potentially 'go viral'.

The Facebook option is first being made available to users in the United States and United Kingdom, and will eventually be rolled out internationally.

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