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Facebook Organs
May 3rd, 2012 Headlines

Facebook wants users in the United States and Britain to add something medical to their profile- that goes way beyond their relationship status. They want you to say whether you want to be an organ donor.

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and a Johns Hopkins transplant surgeon met at their 20th Harvard reunion last year and came up with the idea.   The doctor was passionate about solving the critical shortage of available organs, while the COO knew she could reach hundreds of millions of people.

So, how exactly does it work? Go to your Facebook Timeline. Select “Life Event” from the status update box. In the drop down menu that appears, select “Health and Wellness,” where you can indicate whether you’ve quit a habit, broken a bone, or overcome an illness.  You’ll then see the tab “Organ Donor,” where you can indicate that you are an organ donor.

People shouldn’t just change their organ donor status on Facebook- they should still register to be an organ donor. On Facebook you’re just letting friends and family know your intentions to be an organ donor, but without signing up on an official registry, doctors would still have to ask your family for permission to use your organs after your death.  It is important to mention that it is not a legal declaration.  For that, you need to sign up at the motor vehicle registry or on a donor registry.  Facebook makes it really easy to sign up as there is a link to a local registry

More than 114,000 people are waiting for hearts, livers, kidneys and other organs in the United States.  More than 7,000 people die waiting for a transplant each year.  Although 90% of people surveyed say they favor organ donation, only 30% of registered U.S. drivers are official organ donors.

Almost anyone can donate an organ.  Anyone younger than 18 years old needs to have parental or guardian consent.  If you have a serious illness, you may not be able to be a living donor.  If you die, a medical assessment will be done to determine what organs are healthy enough to be donated.  If you have certain conditions like HIV or certain types of cancer, or a severe infection, you may not be considered a suitable donor after your death.

If you become an organ donor, you do have a say as to which organs you’re willing to donate. You can most certainly indicate which organs you don’t feel comfortable donating.  For example, some people feel weird about donating their corneas for corneal transplants.

It’s easier for donor’s blood and tissue type to match the recipient’s. The transplant teams will do tests to see if the blood types and tissue types are compatible.  As for solid organs, the size of the organ can be very important.

About 80% of organs transplanted last year came from deceased donors, who typically indicate on their driver’s licenses or in other instructions that they are willing to donate. If you would like to become an organ donor, be sure to sign up on an official registry and not just on Facebook.



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