Facebook making it easier to become organ donor

May 1, 2012 3:20:41 PM PDT
More than 100,000 Americans are awaiting organ transplants. Eighteen die every day because there isn't one available. Facebook wants to help. The social media network has announced some new ways to do it.

It's hard to imagine a facet of our lives that Facebook isn't already connected to. Facebook shows what we're doing, who we communicate with, what music we listen to, and as of today, Facebook users can proudly display their organ donation status.

"In Japan, people were using Facebook to locate their friends and family," said Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. "So we figured can we do anything that would help people solve other types of issues, like all the people who need organ donation."

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg announced the move in an exclusive interview with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts. Users in the United States can now go into their timeline and update their status to reflect that they are donors.

But Facebook goes one step further: Users who aren't already donors can directly link to their state's registry and sign up in minutes.

"Every day 19 people die waiting for an organ, not because we don't know how to save their lives, but because their ability to do so is limited by the number of people who choose to donate their organs," said Alison Smith of the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network.

One-hundred-and-thirteen-thousand people nationwide are waiting for a transplant, 5,000 in Illinois.

"Last October my daughter was married. I got to participate in that as a result of being a liver transplant patient," said transplant recipient Andy Trosper. "In July I'll get to do that process again with my other daughter."

With half of the US population already on Facebook, the social media network could have a real impact on the size of those waiting lists, resulting in more happy endings like Trosper's.

"It's phenomenal. It's almost mind-boggling when you think how far they can reach, how many people they can impact," Trosper said.

For now, only users in the United States will be able to participate, though Facebook plans to link up with organ donor registries in the United Kingdom soon.

With nearly 1 billion users worldwide, some say this truly represents the best of what social media is all about.