Facebook: Share Your Status, Organs

Founder Mark Zuckerberg uses social media to increase organ donor registration

By Ty Pressley
|  Wednesday, May 2, 2012  |  Updated 1:55 PM CDT
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Facebook: Share Your Status, Organs

NBCPhiladelphia.com

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Have you updated your organ donor status on Facebook? Beginning May 1, Facebook users can update their organ donor status on their timeline.

Current Facebook profiles already allow users to share other life events: new jobs, new friends, the dreaded “in a relationship and its complicated,” but now the conversation is turning toward a more staggering statistic: 18 people will die today because of a lack of available organ donors, according to Donate Life America.

The new campaign was inspired by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s friendship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who received a liver transplant before he died last year. Using social media to spark awareness and drive registration is already seeing results. In just one day, Facebook reports over 100,000 users updated their organ donor status.

While saying you are a donor on Facebook is not legally binding, the site does pair users with links to the appropriate official registry. Donate Life America reported that there were over 10,000 additional official registries after the launch of the new timeline feature Tuesday.

More importantly, the new organ donor feature allows users to add their story. Why did you become an organ donor? When? Inspiring stories, like NBC’s own Kristi Nelson donating a kidney to her mother, help users make an emotional connection and increase their likelihood of joining in.

The latest trend is also an important call to action for minorities. Last year, Southwest Transplant Alliance reported that 80 percent of the 8,000 patients awaiting kidney transplants in Texas were minorities.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health, "Generally, people are genetically more similar to people of their own ethnicity or race than to people of other races. Therefore, matches are more likely and more timely when donors and potential recipients are members of the same ethnic background."

This is one instance of how being part of a social trend can also mean being a part of the difference—a step that could very well help end the shortage of organ donors in America.

Learn how to update your timeline here.

Sign up to be on the Texas statewide organ donor registry here.

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