October 20, 2014

Social media expected to boost organ donation efforts

Iowa’s organ donor network is expecting to get a healthy boost in awareness from a gesture by the giant in social networking websites. Facebook is going to allow people to show if they’re registered organ donors in their “about me” sections.

Chris Keahi, a spokesman for the Iowa Donor Network, is applauding the addition. “You are able to indicate on Facebook, if you do have the Timeline, to indicate that you are a donor and you are able to list where and when you did that,” Keahi says.

“If you’re not officially registered, there is another link for you to click on and register in the appropriate state.” Facebook hasn’t initiated the change yet, but Keahi says it’s expected to be coming within a day or two.

Keahi says, “Facebook has nearly one-billion members and by people sharing their decision to become a donor upon their time of death, we think it’s a great opportunity to share that message and raise awareness.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says the new policy was inspired by last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the way the social networking website was able to help people reach out to each other. Keahi says the move can only help increase the number of registered donors, which is now about 43% of American adults.

“Nationwide, there are over 114,000 people now waiting for an organ transplant,” Keahi says. “Here in Iowa, that number is roughly 625 and anywhere between 85 and 90% of those are waiting for either a kidney or a liver transplant.”

Learn more at the website: www.iowadonornetwork.org.