Share & Connect
Facebook has launched its latest tool where users can share that they are an organ donor, in the hope that it will help save more lives on a daily basis. Facebook users have to go to their timelines, where under ‘Life Event’ they will see a health and wellness section and then you can click to become an organ donor and share your story about when, where or why you decided to become a donor.
More than 114,000 people in the United States are awaiting organ donations, 79 people daily receive a transplant while 18 die, according to Organdonor.gov. In the UK, National Service Health Service (NHS) pointed out that there are over 10,000 people on the waiting list for an organ, while an average of three people a day die waiting for a transplant.
The new Facebook feature is working in the United States, UK, and Australia but it is expected to expand in other parts of the world. The US previously averaged about 506 new registrations per day, but since Facebook introduced the tool on April 30 more than 24,000 people have registered to donate their organs, according to Donate Life America.
Facebook added the organ donation feature to raise awareness to the issue after CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, took a personal interest in it, partly because of his friendship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Jobs’s liver transplant extended his life several years.
The move will raise awareness about the critical shortage of organs for people in need of life-saving transplants. It may also create social pressure to inspire Facebook friends to consider registration.
This solidary initiative is seen by many skeptics like another way to obtain personal information concerning our health. Once we become an organ donor our privacy is stripped away, no matter how good Facebook´s intentions, sharing our data with the social network entails releasing information to an unknown companies without our consent. In an indirect way behind our altruistic behavior many big firms will make a killing exchanging information.
This donor program might bring about many successful and happy stories about saving lives, but in the end you are also an information donor, giving away your personal information to a company that can make profit off of it. Medical insurance companies will use our personal medical information to determine our eligibility for insurance coverage for their own protection, allowing health businesses to capitalize on insurance payments for the healthy, whereas others with bad medical history will be overcharged.
Another concern about organ donation is that medical information on Facebook is not protected by U.S. laws. According to the state´s Uniform Anatomical Gift Law, being an organ donor on Facebook is just as good being on the state´s organ donation registry.
Organ donation has never been “private” as it is openly displayed upon a public identification card. The choice of being an organ donor is personal and has to be respected. With the new Facebook feature, this choice becomes a public identity marker, something to be socially shared, commented upon, and potentially, conspicuously absent.
The advocacy group Donate Life American found that many people decline to became an organ donor for diverse reasons: citizens fear that they are not healthy enough or they are too old to donate their organs; others are concerned that doctors will not try their best to save them if they are known to be an organ donor; some people believe there is a black market where organs or tissues are sold; and some citizens question whether or not a person can recover from brain death.
Organ donation, as displayed through Facebook, is at once a deeply personal decision about death and the body, and a public display of generosity, fear, and/or general health. Whether you think that Facebook has made a strong move in a positive direction, or has once again taken sharing too far, the organ donation feature on Facebook embodies the categorical fusion that represents a connected era.