Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Facebook seeks to foster organ donor awareness in friends, family with 'donor status' feature

Social networking giant Facebook has added a new option, allowing users to add their organ donor status to their accounts. The designation does not take the place of officially registering as an organ donor; it doesn't mean that a doctor can consult a dying patient's Facebook page to see if they can harvest their organs.

Instead, what it does is foster organ donor awareness among your "Facebook friends," real friends, and relatives. It will mean less confusion about whether or not you are an organ donor if you were to die.

Actual organ donation still requires a donor to sign up with the appropriate state registry. Most of the time that involves working with the appropriate state DMV. If you're not a donor, and you want to be one, guess what: Facebook will make it easier for you by including links to official organ donation registries where users can instantly enroll.

If you're still confused, Facebook has a dedicated Web page explaining sharing your organ donor status.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained how dinnertime chats with his girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, a medical student, gave him the idea for the new option.

"'She’s in medical school now,' Zuckerberg said of Chan. 'She’s going to be a pediatrician, so our dinner conversations are often about Facebook and the kids that she’s meeting.'

"Chan told him stories about patients she meets 'getting sicker as they don’t have the organ that they need.'

"But there were other stories too, of children who ultimately received transplants. Stories, Zuckerberg called, 'unbelievable.'"

Facebook has just unveiled the change in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, where it has about 30 million members. The company says it will add the same feature in several other countries in the coming months.

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