Can Social Media Increase Transplant Donation and Save Lives?
Science and Society

Blair L. Sadler and Alfred M. Sadler, Jr.

, 08/24/2012

Can Social Media Increase Transplant Donation and Save Lives?

(Science and Society) Permanent link

While at the National Institutes of Health in 1967 and 1968, we were involved in the design and drafting of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, in partnership with the Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and with the support of several health care organizations. In drafting the model law, we had three major goals: 1) clarify unanswered legal questions about donation, including exactly who could donate, 2) create an easy-to-use legal donation mechanism – the organ donor card, and 3) encourage the law’s widespread adoption. By 1971, all three goals were achieved and the Uniform Act was enacted in all 50 states, with little or no modification.

At that time, the emergence of heart transplantation had dramatically increased public interest and awareness, and polls showed very favorable public attitudes towards donation. We and others believed that the major future focus should be on research and improved care techniques to increase the likelihood of transplants being successful in the long term.

Today, the good news is that antirejection drugs and other therapies are far more effective, active organ donor registries are in place, and thousands of lives have been saved through successful donation and transplantation. Unfortunately, despite many diligent public awareness efforts, there are still long waiting lists for donors, More than 6,000 people in the U.S. died last year without receiving a needed organ.

Could the new era of social media help change this picture? On May 1, Mark Zuckerberg, the president and CEO of Facebook, following a suggestion by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, announced a new feature designed to facilitate an individual’s wish to become an organ or tissue donor. The New YorkTimes described the decision as “a rare foray by Facebook, into social engineering from social networking, and one with potentially profound effect . . .”

The announcement was greeted with great enthusiasm by leaders in the organ donation field. Andrew M. Cameron, the surgical director of liver transplantation at Johns Hopkins Hospital, stated in the New York Times, “This is going to be an historic day in transplant. The math will radically change, and may well eliminate the problem” of the donor shortage.

Today, the biggest challenge to reducing waiting lists is the failure of most people to express their intentions to donate and register as a donor. The Facebook enhancement could significantly help. Facebook offers a convenient link that takes users directly to their state’s organ donor Web site. Signing up is simple. In less than five minutes, Facebook users can move from being motivated by a friend’s proclamation of becoming a donor, to becoming a donor themselves. Users can add their sign up to their time lines, which encourages others to do so.

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s model of how a "social epidemic" develops, Facebook and its users would seem to have all requisite factors needed to create an epidemic of donations. The right people are involved in the movement, the environment is right, and the mechanism to donate is easy. There is a clear message and the need for donated organs is urgent.   

What has happened after the May 1 announcement? More than 300,000 Facebook users worldwide have used the organ donation tool and shared their organ donor status with their friends, says Sarah Feinberg, who directs Facebook's organ donation initiative.

According to David Fleming, CEO of Donate Life America, the initial response “dwarfs any past organ donation initiative.”  By the end of the day of the announcement, 6,000 people had enrolled through 22 state registries.

Charlene Zettel, the CEO of Donate California, reported that California had experienced a remarkable uptick. Typically, about 70 people register as organ donors online each day; in the 24 hours following the Facebook announcement, about 3,900 Californians signed up.

However, as the graphs here, from the Donate Life California donor registry, show, the dramatic increase in registered organ donors was quickly followed by a dramatic decline. Within two weeks, the rate of registration of new organ donors returned to previous levels. Had the spark of change had been extinguished?

Facebook Effect Donor Registries

Facebook California ogan donor registrires

Perhaps missing is the repeated cuing that can help drive individual action. An annual day to celebrate registered organ donors would be one way to enhance cuing. Asking state donor organizations to provide Facebook with real-time updates on the growing number of registered donors might be another. Historically, 98 percent of registered organ donations come through the states’ departments of motor vehicles donor registration programs. While this is the most successful strategy for recruiting registered donors in most states, the numbers could pale by comparison if the full potential of social media could be harnessed by state donor registries.

Interactions with the DMV occur infrequently for most young people, compared to Facebook interactions, which occur multiple times every day. Indeed, if the full potential of Facebook and other social media were to be engaged over an extended period of time, it is possible that enough young people could be registered to address the needs of their own generation and beyond.

Inspiring stories of lives saved through organ and tissue donation could be posted on Facebook or tweeted to friends. To create the “stickiness” and staying power Gladwell describes, organ donation organizations need to embrace this new technology in a way that translates possibilities into reality.

State registries must also be easy to find and use. If the common perception is that in order to register as an organ donor, one needs to go through the DMV, people may be less inclined to donate. But if people know that they can register easily by visiting a Web site and clicking a button or two, their willingness should increase. State registries could include social sharing on their sites, so that once a person joins the registry, he or she has the option to share this information via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks which should drive awareness among family and friends.

Social media could also allow donor registries to advertise at no cost. Facebook has challenged other technology companies to show corporate leadership and has demonstrated the power of social media to encourage altruism.

Within our grasp is a world where people, families, and loved ones have conversations about their wishes to make a gift of life upon their death. Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have given us a mechanism whereby lifesaving intent is codified in legally valid registries and which dedicated doctors and nurses can act upon in a timely manner to save or enhance lives. Imagine a future where waiting lists for organs are drastically reduced and where most potential recipients receive a donation within months, instead of years.

Families who have made this ultimate gift of life tell us that organ donation is a rewarding and meaningful act, especially following the death of a loved one. The use of social media to greatly expand the gift of life could be a shining example of the generosity, ethics, and values in America and elsewhere. Let’s work together to make this happen.

This post has been updated.

Blair Sadler, a lawyer, is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and a member of The Hastings Center’s Board of Directors. Alfred Sadler, a physician, has been a leader of the development of the profession of physician assistants and is completing a book on the subject. They were founding Fellows of the Hastings Center.

Posted by Susan Gilbert at 08/24/2012 02:14:54 PM | 


Comments
This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!
Posted by: magyblog@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 8/16/2013 2:19 PM


Great stuff from you. Ive read your stuff before and you just too awesome.
Posted by: xixi9917@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 10/9/2013 4:43 AM


While numerous doing work females decide to purchase genuine designer handbags for on their own, they can be in a position to try and do so since they are earning their very own income. For fashion-conscious ladies who even now rely on their mom and dad for his or her allowance, nonetheless, designer handbags are quite possibly effectively over and above their total price selection. As an alternative, wholesale handbags are great for women who nonetheless needs to glance beneficial. Replica handbag wholesale designer handbags can be found at small price ranges that even quite a few women can find the money for, without the need of compromising on appears. As most ladies have do not ever even held a position or earned dollars of cheap ugg boots their very own, it might be ridiculous for them to even think about shelling out the sums of income essential to buy designer label handbags.
Posted by: 1473138551@qq.com ( Email | Visit ) at 10/22/2013 2:59 AM


Le contenu est très riche, j'ai aimé ce post, notre organisation. Allover le monde afin de mieux servir mon organisation.
Posted by: chenghuiaa123@163.com ( Email | Visit ) at 1/15/2014 3:01 AM


thanks for post it
Posted by: nuzululhakim@hotmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 5/12/2014 12:04 AM


Useful information. Fortunate me I discovered your site unintentionally, and I'm stunned why this accident didn't came about earlier! I bookmarked it
Posted by: madamered@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 6/1/2014 1:31 PM


I have been browsing on-line more than 3 hours lately, yet I by no means found any attention-grabbing article like yours. It's lovely worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made just right content as you did, the web shall be much more helpful than ever before. "Truth is not determined by majority vote." by Doug Gwyn.
Posted by: smkn4bengkulu@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 6/3/2014 11:47 AM


If UNOS Signs Up EVERY ADULT in the USA …
• Total U.S. Population = 316,128,839
• Adult Population = 240,257,918
• Current UNOS Sign Ups = 100,000,000+
(now 41.6% of all U.S. Adults)
• 100% Sign Ups = 2.4 Times Current rate
• Current Deceased Transplants = 11,161
• 100% Sign Up Level = 26,786 Transplants
Current Kidney Wait List = 100,253 and Growing!!!

Mathematically Impossible…
HARVESTING KIDNEYS from LESS THAN 1% of people who die each year is a losing proposition …
100,253 on Kidney Wait List (as of 4/25/2014)
» 2013 Wait List Additions – 36,397
» 2013 Wait List Removals – 29,647*
*7,422 either died or were too sick for transplant

WE NEED MORE LIVING KIDNEY TRANSPLANT DONORS!!!
Posted by: savageman3@aol.com ( Email | Visit ) at 6/28/2014 4:55 PM


C'est vraiment un super post. Dois admettre que vous êtes au milieu de la meilleur écrivain que j'ai lu. Je vous remercie de votre faire l'effort de discuter de ce type d'article
Posted by: chenghuiaa123456@163.com ( Email | Visit ) at 9/12/2014 6:07 AM


Hi, thanks I have to say I am amazed by your article. Indeed coupons is very useful specially to online consumers.
Posted by: bocaishuaige@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 10/8/2014 3:42 AM


At UGG Boots, Buy Fake ugg boots of high quality and at reasonable price in uggs outlet. We promise the quality of knock off ugg boots brands are the best.
Posted by: abigailadaabigailada@hotmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 11/11/2014 3:07 AM


Fake Toms shoes sale online, offer cheap replica Toms shoes, both mens and womens toms, fake Toms shoes online over 69% Off
Posted by: abigailadaabigailada@hotmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 12/4/2014 2:55 AM


Online Url Opener Tool, Open Multiple Websites at the Same Time
Posted by: abigailadaabigailada@hotmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 12/21/2014 4:58 AM


It's lovely worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made just right content as you did, the web shall be much more helpful than ever before
Posted by: ayunksyah@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 12/24/2014 2:34 AM


Oat meal, barley, brown almond and millet are a couple of samples of the whole grain which you might consider getting which might be cost-effective as well as simple on your own finances.
Posted by: oyahaloms@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 2/3/2015 5:27 PM


of course social media increase transplant donation awareness. if you can advertise using social media, then you can campaigning about this to increase transplant donation.
Posted by: HannahH3456@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 3/3/2015 8:06 AM


yess
Posted by: fatahiqbal@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/7/2015 10:58 PM


yess
Posted by: fatahiqbal@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/7/2015 10:59 PM


Great article іtѕ verу striking. Yоu hаvе beautifully presented уоur thought іn thіs blog post. I fоund sо manу interesting thіngѕ іn thіs blog, excellent work.
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 2:10 AM


Thiѕ topic hаs аlwаys bеen оnе оf mу favorite subjects tо read about. I hаve fоund уоur post tо bе vеry rousing аnd full оf good information. I wіll check уour othеr articles shortly.
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 2:20 AM


I hаve beеn studying thіѕ topic fоr а long time. Yоu havе рrоvidеd great information іn уоur post аnd sоme thіngѕ I hаvе nоt ѕeen іn оther content I hаvе read bу others.
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 2:40 AM


Great post. I wоuld lіkе tо thаnk уоu fоr thе efforts yоu hаve madе іn writing thiѕ knowledgeable article.
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 2:48 AM


I rеallу apрrесіatе thiѕ post. I hаve bеen loоking еverуwhеre fоr this! Thаnk goodness I fоund іt оn Bing. You've mаde mу day! Thаnk уоu agaіn
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:01 AM


Interesting topic fоr а blog. I havе bееn searching thе Internet fоr fun аnd саme uрon уоur website. Fabulous post.
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:03 AM


Thаnks а ton fоr sharing уour knowledge! It іѕ great tо ѕее thаt somе people ѕtіll put іn аn effort іntо managing theіr websites. I'll bе ѕurе tо check bасk agаin real soon.
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:13 AM


I јuѕt fоund thiѕ blog аnd hаve high hopes fоr іt tо continue. Kеeр uр thе great work, іtѕ hard tо find good ones. I hаve added tо mу favorites. Thаnk You.
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:16 AM


Itѕ а great pleasure reading уоur post.Its full оf information I аm lookіng fоr аnd I love tо post а comment thаt "The content оf уоur post іs awesome" Great work
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:20 AM


Positive site, whеrе dіd u соme uр wіth thе information оn thіs posting? I'm pleased I discovered іt though, іll bе checking bаck ѕоon tо find оut whаt additional posts yоu include.
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:25 AM


Excellent article. Verу interesting tо read. I rеallу love tо read suсh а nice article. Thanks! kеep rocking.
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:27 AM


I felt vеrу happy whіle reading thіѕ site. Thіѕ wаs rеally vеry informative site fоr me. I rеallу lіked it. Thіѕ wаs rеаlly а cordial post. Thаnks а lot!.
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:27 AM


All thе contents yоu mentioned іn post iѕ toо good аnd сan bе verу useful. I wіll keеp іt іn mind, thankѕ fоr sharing thе information keер updating, lоoking forwаrd fоr mоre posts.Thanks
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:28 AM


Nice blog аnd absolutely outstanding. Yоu саn dо ѕоmеthіng muсh bеtter but і stіll ѕaу thiѕ perfect.Keep trуing fоr thе best.
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:29 AM


I аm happy tо find thіѕ post Vеrу usеful fоr me, аѕ іt cоntainѕ lot оf information. I Alwаys prefer tо read Thе Quality аnd glad I fоund thiѕ thіng іn уou post. Thankѕ
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:30 AM


Superbly written article, іf оnlу аll bloggers offered thе ѕame content аs you, thе internet wоuld bе а fаr bеtter place..
Posted by: briar212@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/13/2015 3:33 AM


I think that social media has its advantages and disadvantages. because all the important things it depends on the user. all the technological advances will certainly have a negative impact and positive.
Posted by: dhikodwi@rocketmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 4/27/2015 5:04 PM


Healthy self-esteem requires that we can acknowledge and appreciate our strengths, but also accept our shortcomings and insecurities. This process begins by understanding that everyone excels in some areas of life, but not so much in others. Excellence is a belief of human being mother nature, as soon as we relinquish that wish for it, we are able to be ourself with out trying to find impractical ideals
Posted by: boni.experius@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 5/8/2015 12:42 PM


this site contains valuable information in it. i can see articles quality on the presentation.very much thankful for give thi informational.
Posted by: dhikodwi@rocketmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 5/11/2015 3:56 PM


Nice blog аnd absolutely outstanding. Yоu саn dо ѕоmеthіng muсh bеtter but і stіll ѕaу thiѕ perfect.Keep trуing fоr thе best. thanks for sharing :)
Posted by: jehastein@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 5/18/2015 6:59 PM


Nice blog аnd absolutely outstanding. thanks for sharing, best result for you
Posted by: jehastein@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 5/18/2015 7:01 PM


which appear in the mistresses', also means that their so-called other; Shortcuts throughout; Doesn't work, http://www.yogarightnow.com/ it is destined to other; Lost a lady and fold soldier throughout; Not only to lose the freedom and dignity, http://www.ihlasiletisim.com/ more to lose their wealth and status.
Posted by: mbtning@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 5/18/2015 10:07 PM


Strolling is an effective way of slimming down, additionally it is easy to maintain while there is absolutely nothing physically demanding in regards to the routines.


email names list
Posted by: jamalasjhar34@gmail.com ( Email | Visit ) at 5/25/2015 5:45 AM


yes, i think social media kan save people life, and kill people too
Posted by: hitaerlangga@yahoo.com ( Email | Visit ) at 5/27/2015 3:36 AM


Connect with the Forum

Get Permissions

RSS feed