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Facebook is making it easier to be an organ donor

Molly Wood May 2, 2012

Facebook is helping people become organ donors. You can now go to the site, search ‘organ donor,’ find links to sign up and list yourself as a donor on your timeline.

Andrew Cameron is surgical director of liver transplantation at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He thinks this could be huge.

Andrew Cameron: There are a billion people on Facebook. We have 100,000 people in this country on the transplant waiting list. If we could do maybe twice as well as we’re doing now, I think we could end the organ shortage in say maybe three or four years. That may be optimistic, but Facebook is a tool that can get to huge numbers of people right away and get them talking and that for sure will be very productive.

The hope is that more people sign up on Facebook because it’s more pleasant than the DMV, where you can become a donor when you renew your license. At the DMV, you have to go there, wait in line, by the time you have to sign the little card, maybe you don’t like people as much. On Facebook, you hang out with friends and family.

Arthur Caplan teaches Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. He says Facebook can be like a will.

Arthur Caplan: Facebook helps because it lets a lot of other people know what your wishes are.

Moe: But it’s not a binding contract, no one will check Facebook

Caplan: That’s a fair point, but at the end of the day, if you really watch how organ donation works, many more organs are obtained because relatives know the wishes and desires of the person who died. It’s great to sign the card. I think you should check your motor vehicle license. I have, but if you don’t tell anyone, then your family may or may not know your wishes, and their own values may come into play.

While Facebook provides links, you can’t sign up to be a donor ON Facebook.

David Fleming, CEO of Donate Life America, says that’s because —

David Fleming: The laws that govern donation and transplantation are state-based. So, we have an official infrastructure in place that Facebook is not part of. That is why Facebook has taken the opportunity to allow people to share their decision on their timeline to be a donor, but as important or more important is to make sure that they’re clicking on that link, taking time to officially register in their state.

Those extra clicks might limit the impact Facebook could have.

David Fleming: One of the things we have learned about social media and online is the more clicks you make somebody take, the more people you lose, so getting to the point to where we can have a simple way, a registration portal for anyone to click on to register certainly makes sense to me.

The latest in boom box technology – and there is such a thing – is the newly released Big Jambox. The name is misleading. The Big Jambox is 6 inches long and weighs 2.7 pounds. Plays music by streaming with Bluetooth or through USB cables. That’s good news for Lloyd Dobler — you remember the 1989 movie “Say Anything”? Lloyd was a young man uncertain of the future, but he managed to pull it together by serenading his girlfriend with a huge boom box held above his head.

Now, if Lloyd was 19 in 1989, he’s 42 now. So a tiny light boom box may be easier to hold up. Although maybe he’s kept himself in shape with kickboxing.

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