Today Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and CEO Sheryl Sandberg submitted a blog post urging users of the social network to disclose their organ donor status, in an initiative to save lives. Facebook members can now add their donor directives to their timelines, and also follow a link to register with their state or national donor database, if they’ve yet to do so.
Zuckerberg goes on to point out Facebook’s simple mission of making the world more open and connected, and mentions how the platform was able to help users in Japan find loved ones after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. With roughly 7,000 patients in the U.S. dying annually while waiting on an organ transplant, which is about 18 per day, the new Facebook initiative seeks to lower this number by calling upon its 161 million domestic users.
“This is going to be an historic day in transplant,” Dr. Andrew M. Cameron, surgical director of liver transplantation at Johns Hopkins Hospital, told The New York Times, adding, “The math will radically change, and we may well eliminate the problem.” Cameron explains that the main issue the 114,000 patients in the U.S. awaiting a transplant deal with has nothing to do with a lack of medical technology – it’s a plain shortage of organs. And, listing ones donor status on Facebook could provide evidence of an advance directive per familiar consent, even if it’s not legally binding. Cameron also asserts that a discussion on the matter on Facebook could be much more profound than a visit to the local D.M.V.
Interestingly, Dr. Cameron inadvertently had a hand in forming Facebook’s new cause, being a former Harvard classmate of the social network’s CEO Sandberg. The two bumped into each other at a class reunion, and Sandberg recalled Cameron’s article on this issue in a class reunion booklet, and suggested she could help.
Facebook does have its relevant functions on a in real life social level, and was of assistance during the rash of tornados in the southeastern U.S. earlier this year. As of writing, Zuckerman’s blog post on the matter only has about 1,000 Facebook likes. Time will tell if the initiative takes off.