Monday, June 25, 2012

Facebook to allow users to share organ donation status

Update 2:
From today, June 25th, this option will be available on facebook in Ireland. As we don't have an organ donor register, it is difficult to see what impact it will have, but it may be an effective method of increasing awareness.

It seems that organ donation registrations rose by 800% in California yesterday. Impressive.

Facebook rolled out a new option yesterday, whereby users in the UK and US can now indicate on their pages if they wish to be organ donors (it also provides a link to the donor registries which are in place in those countries- Ireland does not currently have a registry).

This change may help donation to become a social norm, and could prompt those who had previously been ambivalent about donating to make a decision. People want to be similar to their friends, and nobody wants to be the odd one out; so if everyone in your timeline has signed up to donate, you may be more likely to do the same.

Additionally, a piece in the New York Times points out that, as this blog has noted previously, ultimately consent for organ donation in many places lies with the family. An individuals' facebook page may serve as an important source of information regarding their wishes for donation if family members have to make a decision about consent.

It will be interesting to track if this leads to a meaningful increase in donation registrations, or a better awareness among friends and family of the wishes of their loved ones. Hopefully this latest tool will be rolled out in Ireland soon.


Liam Delaney said...

Its an interesting move. I dont know if they already have something like this but a fund whereby facebook had a competition to solicit proposals to use their site like this would be a good initiative.

kevin denny said...

Even when, in theory, an individual consents to have his organs harvested, the practice in Europe I believe is to require the agreement of the family. Basically hospitals don't want to upset families, which makes sense.

Rob Gillanders said...

I really hope that information on FB doesn't have any legal status...