Facebook likes organ donors

Xavier Symons
June 23, 2013
Reproduced with Permission

US researchers have published a paper documenting the merits of Facebook in promoting organ donation. The study indicated that the addition of an 'organ donor status' to the Facebook profile page gave a 21-fold boost to the number of people who registered themselves as organ donors in a single day.

Facebook introduced its organ donor status program last May and the response was dramatic. Researchers looked at data from online motor vehicle registration websites and Facebook on May 1, 2012, the day Facebook enabled the organ donation option. In total, 57,451 updated their profiles to include their organ donor status. There were 13,012 new online organ registrations across the US, meaning there was a 21-fold increase from the average 616 daily registrations the first day of the program. Over the next 12 days, the number of registrations decreased slightly, but it was still two times higher than the average daily rate by the end of the study period.

The study comes just days after a Sarah Murnaghan successfully sued to be fast-tracked on the lung transplant waiting list. This story brought the organ crisis back into the national spotlight.

Slate columnist Will Oremus commented on the reasons for the success of the Facebook initiative: "Organ donation is something that people know they ought to do for the good of others, but theres little individual incentive. The frisson of good feeling that comes from having all your Facebook friends see and like your good deed can help fill that gap."