TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) – Facebook announced on Tuesday that it is now possible to sign up and be an organ donor through their site.
With over 113,000 people currently on a list awaiting an organ or tissue transplant, the need for donations is greater than ever. New research shows 50 percent of Americans have a Facebook account, and Donate Life America decided it was only logical to team up with the social networking site.
Before Tuesday, there were only 3 ways to register as an organ donor: online, at a local Donate Life office, or when you receive your driver's license. Now, Facebook can be added to that list.
"In the entire country, about 40% of licensed drivers are organ donors, they have said yes on their license to organ donation and as far as in NW Ohio, that number actually jumps to about 60%. So, great exposure in our area and really throughout the country. I think this is an awesome thing with social media being so prevalent now, I think it's a great way to get exposure and to raise awareness about donation." says Kara Steele of the Life Connection of Ohio, adding that Facebook will help with new registrations.
Unfortunately, she adds that registering isn't always enough:
"When our coordinators, our clinical staff approach families in a hospital setting and ask about donation, the worst possible answer they can get is, 'I don't know, we never had that conversation, I have no idea what my loved one wants to do."
Steele says Facebook will not only make registering easier, but it will open the necessary lines of communication:
"I think with Facebook now having this application, these conversations are going to be had even more now so that really relieves that from that family having to make that decision at that difficult time. So one person saying yes to organ and tissue donation means 58 people's lives saved or enhanced, I think that is just an amazing thing and again, with the help of Facebook getting the word out there, it's going to be a lot of lives saved."
As part of the announcement, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg became one of the first people on Facebook to sign up and donate through the social media site.