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School of Medicine
Social Media Boosts Organ Donor Registration
Researchers see a 21-fold increase in organ donors in a single day.
Over the last 20 years, the number of organ donors in the United States has remained relatively static, while the number of people waiting for a transplant has increased 10-fold.
Thousands of patients will pass away this year waiting for kidneys, livers and other organs, while an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people die each year whose organs would be suitable for transplant but have not consented to be donors.
With these troubling stats in mind, Dr. Andrew Cameron, surgical director of liver transplantation at the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Translant Center, spoke with fellow Harvard University graduate and current Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg at a class reunion about how to change the trend -- and the results have everyone talking.
A Facebook change in May 2012 allowed users to share their organ donor status with friends and easily find links to make their status official on state department of motor vehicle website, resulting in a significant boost in registered donors in a single day.
“The short-term response was incredibly dramatic, unlike anything we had ever seen before in campaigns to increase the organ donation rate. And at the end of two weeks, the number of new organ donors was still climbing at twice the normal rate,” said Dr. Cameron.
“If we can harness that excitement in the long term, then we can really start to move the needle on the big picture. The need for donor organs vastly outpaces the available supply and this could be a way to change that equation.”
How You Can Make a Difference
If you haven't already, consider registering as an organ donor through your local DMV website -- and let your friends know about your decision on Facebook. While you're there, consider swinging by the Johns Hopkins Medicine page and clicking the 'Like' button.
National News Coverage
- Facebook May Have Saved Thousands of Lives by Tweaking One Little Feature - Slate, June 18, 2013
- Facebook Gives Big Boost to Organ Donor Registration - New York Daily News, June 18, 2013
- Will Facebook's Organ Donor Status Stick? - CNN Health, June 18, 2013
- Facebook Boosts Organ Donation Registration, Study Finds - The Huffington Post, June 18, 2013
- Facebook Campaign Encourages More Organ Donors, Hopkins Study Finds - Baltimore Business Journal, June 18, 2013
- Facebook Helped Boost Onrgan Donor Registration - Yahoo! News, June 18, 2013
- Study: Facebook's Organ Donor Status Increases Number of Registered Donors Substantially - Deseret News, June 18, 2013
- Social Media Campaign Increases Organ Donor Registrations - UPI, June 18, 2013
- Facebook Campaign Encourages More Organ Donors, Johns Hopkins Study Finds - Austin Business Journal, June 18, 2013
- Facebook Organ Donor Option Leads to Surge in Registrations - Bangor Daily News, June 18, 2013
- Facebook Users Really 'Liked' Organ Donor Option - Fox 5 Las Vegas, June 18, 2013
- Organ Donors Will Sign Up On Facebook - MedPage Today, Sanjay Gupta Blog, June 18, 2013
- Facebook Campaign Led to Dramatic Jump in Organ Donors, Study Finds - Crain's Detroit Business, June 18, 2013
- Organ Donation Up 2,100 Percent in One Day Due to Social Media - Examiner.com, June 18, 2013
- Did You Know Your Facebook Profile Could Help Save a Life? - WHEC-TV, June 18, 2013