Zuckerberg Says Girlfriend, Steve Jobs Inspired Facebook Organ Donor Tool

IT Management

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This morning we brought you news about Facebook's new tool that allows users to include their organ donor status to their timeline. The feature allows people not only to publish the fact that they are an organ donor, but also to add their name to their local organ donor registry.

The tool was announced this morning in a post on Facebook's blog by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. It was hailed by physicians like Dr. Andrew Cameron, surgical director of liver transplantation at Johns Hopkins, who said the tool had the potential to drastically reduce the number people who die each day because they are waiting on an organ transplant.

But where did the idea come from? Zuckerberg told ABC News today that he got the idea in part from his girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, who is in medical school and planning to become a pediatrician. Dinner conversations between the two often centered on the way her patients interacted with Facebook. That, combined with the way Facebook has been used during various disasters recently - tornado outbreaks, the Japanese tsunami, and the like - helped form the idea. Zuckerberg also cited his relationship with Steve Jobs, who underwent a liver transplant in 2009 that added several years to his life.

Facebook has often been a source of controversy, largely due to privacy concerns. That said, it's good to see an organization like Facebook using its popularity to do something good. With 18 people every day dying simply because they're waiting for an organ transplant, adding even a faction of Facebook's 161 million users to their local organ donor registries has the potential to help thousands of people.

As part of their blog post on the new feature, Facebook posted a video with simple instructions for adding your organ donor status to your timeline. Check it out below.

Are you on the organ donor registry? Have you added your status to your Facebook timeline? What do you think of this new initiative? Let us know in the comments.