Since May, about 275,000 U.S. residents have posted their organ donor status on Facebook, according to data from the social networking website, NPR's "Shots" reports (Schultz, "Shots," NPR, 9/20).
Background on the Initiative
Four months ago, Facebook launched an initiative that aims to leverage its network of 161 million users to more quickly match patients who are waiting for organ transplants with possible 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 (iHealthBeat, 5/1).
Facebook plans to expand the initiative to users in Canada and Mexico this week.
Reaction to the Initiative
Blair Sadler -- an attorney and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement -- said the new Facebook feature "shows the enormous potential of social media," noting that people are more likely to be persuaded to donate by friends and family than by activists or public health officials.
However, in a recent opinion piece published by the Hastings Center, Sadler argued that more should be done to fully leverage the power of social media networks.
He noted that data from Donate Life California show that 4,000 state residents registered as organ donors in the 24 hours following Facebook's announcement, compared with the typical 70 registrations per day. However, the registration rate dropped back down to its normal level by May 6.
Sadler said that social media campaigns need to continuously prompt individuals in order to maintain continued success ("Shots," NPR, 9/20).