When I was a kid I was fascinated with a family friend’s profession as an organ donation coordinator. Eileen, a nurse, was challenged with talking to families who may have lost a loved one, explaining the benefits of organ donation, and trying to convince them to let their loved ones organs and tissues be donated to save 8 lives and enhance 50+.
That is why I was so excited when earlier this week, Facebook launched an initiative to allow users to sign up to become organ donors. As of Wednesday, more than 22,000 people had signed up—including yours truly!
Organ and tissue donation is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine. But unfortunately, there are roughly 114,000 people on the waiting list and someone dies every 4 hours waiting for a transplant. Many times potential donors have not talked to their families about their wishes, which can make the decision very difficult.
Facebook provides a fantastic platform to empower people to communicate about an important issue, get the facts out, increase awareness and make the discussion less taboo. In addition, there are implications for live donors (for kidneys for example), reaching out and connecting on Facebook.
I posted today’s CBS News story below—it talks about the benefits and potential risks associated with a social media platform for organ donation. For example, because the government does not regulate the Facebook donation information, situations of coercion or donation for money could arise. That being said, in my opinion the risks of abuse largely outweigh the potential benefits. As Dr. Andrew Cameron, a transplant surgeon at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says “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.”
The Facebook effect has created a lot of buzz in the news media about organ donation. If you want to sign up, you can go through your Facebook page (Facebook>>Your profile page>>Life Event>>Health and Wellness>>Organ Donor) or check out this link to Donate Life America!
If you want to learn more, here are resources I used for this post as well as some additional gems:
- ABC News: States see instant spike in organ donors following Facebook push
- Like: Facebook feature spurs organ donor signups
- US Department of Health and Human Services: Organ Donation
- United Network for Organ Sharing
- California Transplant Donor Network