Facebook today launched its latest feature: the ability to add whether you are an organ donor to your Timeline under the "Health & Wellness" section, and share your story about when, where, or why you decided to become one. If you're not already an organ donor, Facebook gives you a link to your state or national donor registry so you can quickly enroll.
Public health awareness campaigns have so far failed to get people to become organ donors. Now Facebook has taken the problem into its own hands. You can see how the feature works in the video embedded above.
There's an important limitation worth underlining here: the feature is only available to Facebook users in the U.S. and U.K. I have contacted Facebook to find out when it will roll out more broadly and I will update you if I hear back. Update at 12:30 PM PST - "We plan to expand the use of this feature to additional countries in the coming weeks and months," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
To validate the new feature, Facebook quoted two statistics from Donate Life America, a nonprofit alliance that is partnering with the social networking giant. First Menlo Park underlined that more than 114,000 people in the U.S., and millions more around the globe, are waiting for the heart, kidney, or liver transplant that will save their lives. Furthermore, Facebook said that an average of 18 people per day will die waiting because there simply aren't enough organ donors to meet the need.
Will sharing that you're an organ donor on Facebook really help change the world? Facebook says medical experts think broader awareness about organ donation could help solve the crisis. Facebook of course believes in the power of sharing, with your friends (and with the public as well).
"What we hope will happen is that by just having this simple tool, we think that people can really help spread awareness of organ donation and that they want to participate in this to their friends," Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told ABC News. "That can be a big part of helping solve the crisis that's out there."
"Facebook's mission is simple: to make the world more open and connected," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "But the Facebook community has also shown us that simply through sharing and connecting, the world gets smaller and better. Even one individual can have an outsized impact on the challenges facing another, and on the world. At Facebook, we call that the power of friends."
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