Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Herlihy
If the first-day response is an indication, thousands of lives may be saved by social media. On May 1, 2012, Facebook announced a new feature making it easy to register as an organ donor, prompting more than 6,000 people in 22 state registries to enroll that day.
According to Donate Life America, which is working with Facebook, the typical rate for signups for those 22 states has been less than 400 a day.
By the end of the day, more than 100,000 people in the United States and United Kingdom had signed up to be organ donors, according to Facebook.
This is a tremendous public service for at least a couple of reasons:
First, too many people who need a donated organ like a kidney or liver die waiting because there is a profound organ shortage.
Second, some families refuse to let a loved one’s organs be donated, even if the person who died had previously said they wanted to be a donor.
Where Facebook comes in is by raising awareness publicly as to who is declaring themselves ready to donate, either after they die or maybe even for a friend or family member as a living donor.
That declaration may have legal standing so that an organ donation can go forward even if a family member tries to stand in the way. After all, it is your body and your wishes that count.
Online health media such as EmpowHER, and social media like Facebook, have tremendous power to do good. Encouraging organ donation where there is a lifesaving purpose is a great place to start.
And because of the 526 million members Facebook has worldwide, this can have much more impact than a symbol on your driver’s license in the states that encourage organ donation.
If hearing about this has created interest in organ donation, I encourage you to learn more about this from both experts who work in this field of medicine, and from patients who have benefited from organ transplants.
A good place to start is the Organ Donation Health Center on Patient Power at http://www.patientpower.info/health-topic/organ-donation/
You can also meet transplant recipient Jennifer Herlihy who says today she is healthier than ever.