Analyzing the 'Facebook Effect' on organ and tissue donation

When Facebook introduced a feature that enables people to register to become organ and tissue donors, thousands did so, dwarfing any previous donation initiative, write Blair L. Sadler and Alfred M. Sadler, Jr., in a commentary in Bioethics Forum, the blog of the Hastings Center Report, which analyzes the "Facebook effect" on donation.

The Sadlers, Founding Fellows of The Hastings Center, helped draft the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, established in 1968 to standardize state laws on the donation of organs and tissue after death. Blair Sadler, a lawyer, is a member of The Hastings Center's Board of Directors. Alfred Sadler is a physician.

Their commentary tracks the response to Facebook's introduction, on May 1, of a feature that lets people state their wishes to become donors in an attempt to reduce the long waiting lists for organs and tissue. "By the end of the day of the announcement, 6,000 people had enrolled through 22 state registries," the Sadlers write. In California alone, 3,900 people signed up, compared with 70 on a typical day.

After two weeks, the rate of registration returned to previous levels, but the Sadlers suggest several strategies for harnessing the full potential of social media to achieve a sustained increase in registration. "Perhaps missing is the repeated cuing that can help drive individual action," they write. "An annual day to celebrate registered organ donors would be one way to enhance cuing. Asking state donor organizations to provide Facebook with real-time updates on the growing number of registered donors might be another."

"State registries could include social sharing on their sites, so that once a person joins the registry, he or she has the option to share this information via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks which should drive awareness among friends and family," they write

The Sadlers also suggest that social media companies allow donor registries to advertise at no cost. "Facebook has challenged other technology companies to show corporate leadership and has demonstrated the power of to encourage altruism."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Facebook moves to help organ donations

May 01, 2012

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

US state 1st with voter registration on Facebook

Jul 18, 2012

(AP) — The state of Washington has become the first in the U.S. to offer voter registration on Facebook, as states update their approaches for younger, more connected residents who've come to expect many services online.

British drivers asked to become organ donors

Dec 31, 2010

Anyone applying for a driving licence in Britain will be asked if they want to join an organ donation scheme under new proposals to boost the number of donors, it was announced on Friday.

Facebook tests real-time update feature

Jun 11, 2011

Facebook on Friday said it is dabbling with a Twitter-like feature that alerts members in real time to what their friends are up to on the social network.

Recommended for you

Schumacher's doctor sees progress after injury

3 hours ago

A French physician who treated Michael Schumacher for nearly six months after the Formula One champion struck his head in a ski accident says he is no longer in a coma and predicted a possible recovery within three years.

New MCAT shifts focus, will include humanities

Oct 20, 2014

(HealthDay)—The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) has been revised, and the latest changes, including more humanities such as social sciences, are due to be implemented next April, according to a report ...

User comments