Facebook Aims to Increase Organ Donations

volunteer screening, pre-screening volunteersOrgan donation centers across the country have seen a big spike in their numbers of volunteers lately. Why? Because Facebook made it easy.

Recently, Facebook partnered with the nonprofit group Donate Life America to start a new initiative that allows users to add their organ donor status to their profiles. And it goes one step further, by connecting interested parties to local registries to sign up online.

With 900 million members, this has the potential to be one of the largest volunteer organ donation campaigns ever. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, said he was inspired by natural disasters like the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, as well as by the social network’s ability to connect people.

He also credited his girlfriend, who is studying to become a pediatrician. Her experiences with sick children, many saved by organ donations, moved Zuckerberg to work with Donate Life America, a national organization for local groups that are working to increase the number of registered donors.

The organization says that nearly 114,000 people currently need lifesaving organ transplants. According to the U.S. Department of Health, more than 7,000 people die each year, awaiting them. In addition, thousands more need corneal transplants to restore their sight and help them live normal lives.

Only 43% of U.S. adults have signed up to be organ donors. People often think it’s a good idea, but never quite get around to taking the next step. But every day, millions of Facebook users log in and update their status. Updating their organ donation status has become just as easy. Plus, it opens people to the conversation about organ donation. And as any non-profit organization knows, awareness is half the battle when you’re looking for donors.

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