Facebook may have a purpose after all. I don’t have a Facebook page and I know I’m in the minority. I’ve always been convinced that Facebook must be useful for something more than posting pictures of your latest bad hair cut or “liking” a comment that doesn’t really matter to anyone. I’ve finally found the true good in Facebook!
In May 2012, Facebook introduced an option that lets users add “Organ Donor” to their profiles, just as someone would add their favorite movies or marital status. It also provided users a quick link to sign up for the national registry of organ, eye and tissue donors through Donate Life. The Facebook project was a partnership with a team from the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the Living Legacy Foundation of Baltimore and Donate Life America.
The results, as chronicled in a report released on Tuesday, were immediate. On the first day alone, more than 57,000 people added the label to their profiles, and 13,054 people registered to be donors online. A year later, 30,818 people had registered to be donors, about five times more than pre-Facebook rates.
For the authors of the report, published in The American Journal of Transplantation, the surge in awareness was one step toward resolving the chronic shortage of organs available for transplants.
Eighteen people die every day waiting for an organ. Those are preventable deaths and often the prevention is as easy as taking a couple of minutes to declare your willingness to donate. The shortage is really a social crisis as opposed to a medical crisis.
In a 2005 Gallup poll 95 percent of respondents said they support organ donation. But that doesn’t always translate to action: in 2009 there were about 14,600 donors for a waitlist of 105,567 people needing organs, according to federal report on organ and tissue transplants.
According to Facebook, those who displayed their organ donor status were largely 25 to 35-years-old and included more women than men. The highest response was in the state of New York. The Facebook “generation” may make a real, and meaningful, impact on the organ shortage and this is something we can all “Like”.