On Tuesday, Facebook launched an initiative that will leverage its network of 161 million U.S. residents to more quickly match patients who are waiting for organ transplants with possible donors, the New York Times reports.
Background on Organ Donation
Nearly 7,000 patients in the U.S. die annually while waiting for an organ, and the federal government's Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network currently has about 114,000 patients on its waiting list, according to the Times.
Data from Donate Life America show that 43% of residents age 18 and older in 2011 officially designated themselves as organ donors. Donation rates in 2010 varied from 7% in Texas to 76% in Alaska.
Details on the Initiative
Facebook officials and organ transplant advocates say the new Facebook initiative could spur more individuals to register as organ donors.
Through the initiative, members of the social networking website can declare themselves as organ donors under a new "Health and Wellness" section, which includes biographical information and updates on their health. The section also includes links to state donor registries.
In addition to the U.S., Facebook is rolling out the new initiative in the U.K., where it has about 30 million members. The social networking website plans to expand the initiative to members in several other countries over the coming months (Richtel/Sack, New York Times, 5/1).