Facebook this week launched a new feature that lets you add whether you are an organ donor to your Timeline 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.
In an interview with ABC News, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg explained where the company was coming from. Here are some choice quotes:
We've really been amazed at how people use Facebook to change their lives, to impact their communities. And this is something that we think we're actually really uniquely able to do.
I think our dream is to save lives. 114,000 people on the organ donation wait list. They're not just in danger for their life, but their quality of life is quite poor. So many people spending so much of their time on dialysis, not able to the basic things that you or I are able to do. 18 people dying every day. If enough people register and enough people start donating, this is a problem that we could dramatically decrease.
The organ donation crisis is not a medical crisis, it's a social crisis. A solvable problem with existing technology. These patients don't have to die if enough people donate. And so we're trying to make this the social answer to this problem we think it can be. Mark and I had been talking about organ donations and things we could do at Facebook.
Unfortunately, the feature is only available to Facebook users in the U.S. and U.K. The good news is Facebook told me that it plans to expand the feature to additional countries in the coming weeks and months.
The first results, from California, have been very promising. That's just the beginning. I have heard that the number of people who have declared themselves organ donors on their Facebook profiles is in the six figures. The number of people who have signed up directly with their local organ donation registries is in the five figures.
I have contacted Facebook for more specific numbers, which I believe will actually be significantly higher. There's a chance the social networking giant won't share any numbers until it hits a milestone, such as say, 1 million registered donors.
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