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Facebook change sparks organ donor surge

Graeme Parton

Facebook has been credited with significantly boosting awareness around organ donation by giving its users the opportunity to show off the**more** fact they’re registered on their profiles.

Figures released this week by the American Journal of Transplantation showed that when Facebook made the change in May 2012, the number of new additions to the donor register jumped 21-fold in the space of 24 hours. The data also revealed that even two weeks after the new option was introduced, the number of people signing up was still growing twice as quick as it had been before.

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has, in the past, expressed her desire to raise awareness around organ donation. She has publicised the fact that the demand for organs far outweighs the number of people signed up as donors. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has said that almost 120,000 people in the country are currently on a waiting list for a lifesaving transplant.

Commenting on the good news, Andrew Cameron from the Johns Hopkins Medicine liver transplant program said:

“There’s a real emotional reward for doing the right thing and telling people about it, and that leads to the best kind of peer pressure. You hope it’s contagious.”

The results of the American Journal of Transplantation survey showed that in the first 24 hours, nearly 60,000 Facebook users altered their profile to show their organ donor status. On the same day, 13,000 people chose to sign up to the donor register; the normal uptake is 616 in a day. Over the first two weeks, there were nearly 40,000 new donors – an increase of 33,000 on what would be considered normal.

The data has shown just how big a part Facebook plays in the lives of its users. Its power to influence major decisions has rarely been in doubt but marketers will certainly be interested in these latest figures.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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