Facebook in organ donation awareness campaign

Tuesday 01 May 2012 16.24
Mark Zuckerberg said he was motivated by his girlfriend and the late Steve Jobs
Mark Zuckerberg said he was motivated by his girlfriend and the late Steve Jobs

Facebook has unveiled an initiative to use the vast social network to help connect organ donors with people who need life-saving transplants.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the initiative and became one of the first Facebook users to sign up to donate on the social network.

Members of Facebook in the United States and Britain can now indicate that they are organ donors on their timelines.

If they are not donors, they can find links to official organ donation registries and instantly enroll.

"Facebook is really about communicating and telling stories," Mr Zuckerberg told ABC News.

"We think that people can really help spread awareness of organ donation and that they want to participate in this to their friends. And that can be a big part of helping solve the crisis that's out there."

Mr Zuckerberg said he was motivated to launch the programme by conversations with his girlfriend, who is a medical student, and his friendship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, whose life was extended by a liver transplant.

"We want to make it simple," said Mr Zuckerberg. "You just put in the state or country that you're from, so that we can help link you to the official registries."

In the "health and wellness" section of users' timelines, users can list their status as organ donors and explain the decision to their friends, in an effort to raise awareness about the need for donors.

"Today, more than 114,000 people in the United States, and millions more around the globe, are waiting for the heart, kidney or liver transplant that will save their lives," Mr Zuckerberg said in a statement with Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

An estimated 18 people die every day from the lack of available organs, according to Donate Life America, a non-profit alliance that is partnering with Facebook.