Bioethics Forum Essay

Take Our Poll: The Facebook Effect on Organ Donation

Blair and Alfred Sadler reported here a few weeks ago on the effect of Facebook’s feature, introduced last spring, that enables users to link to their local organ donation registries and share their donor status. The Sadlers, who helped write the federal law on donation, were interested in the potential of social media to help reduce the shortage of organs for transplantation by making it easier for people to register to become donors. Facebook responded with an update on its activities to expand its effort internationally and overcome some technical hurdles needed to make the feature more user-friendly on mobile devices.

Many of these updates were described in MacLeans in Canada two days ago, when Facebook launched its donation feature there and in Mexico. Sarah Feinberg, who heads Facebook’s organ donation effort, told MacLeans and the Sadlers that she is traveling to each of the countries where Facebook is introducing its organ donation tool and meeting with the health ministers there. As of today, Facebook lists 17 countries that are involved, including several European countries, Columbia, South Africa, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Feinberg says that 275,000 Facebook users around the world have used the organ donation tool and shared with their friends that they are organ donors.

Are you a donor? Have you used Facebook to register to become one? Have you indicated your donor status on Facebook? Take the poll on The Hastings Center’s Facebook page. We’ll report the results on Bioethics Forum.

Susan Gilbert is the editor of Bioethics Forum.

Posted by Susan Gilbert at 09/20/2012 11:07:06 AM |

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Hastings Bioethics Forum essays are the opinions of the authors, not of The Hastings Center.