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What Is Facebook's New Feature That Has 'the Power to Save Lives'?


“This is going to be an historic day in transplant."

You can tell a lot about a person on Facebook -- everything from age, relationship status, level of education and likes and dislikes. Today, Facebook released a new feature that will let people know something even more private about you: your organ donor status.

Facebook announced that in addition to using the social media site to "[connect] with your friends, family and communities, and [share] information with them about your life, work, school and interests" you can now share that you're an organ donor on your Timeline profile.

Here's more from the co-authored blog post by CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Sandberg:

Today, more than 114,000 people in the United States, and millions more around the globe, are waiting for the heart, kidney or liver transplant that will save their lives. Many of those people – an average of 18 people per day – will die waiting, because there simply aren’t enough organ donors to meet the need. Medical experts believe that broader awareness about organ donation could go a long way toward solving this crisis. And we believe that by simply telling people that you're an organ donor, the power of sharing and connection can play an important role.

Watch how it's done:

If you aren't registered yet as an organ donor, going to "Life Event" and "Health and Wellness" on your Timeline, as if you were going to update your donor status, will link you to the appropriate registry to sign-up.

The New York Times has more from experts on what this feature could bring to the table:

They say people declaring on Facebook that they are organ donors could spur others to sign up at motor vehicle departments or online registries. But these experts say Facebook could create an informal alternative to such registries that could, even though it carries less legal weight, lead to more organ donations.

That is because a disclosure on Facebook could provide the evidence of consent that family members need when deciding whether to donate the organs of a loved one, said Dr. Andrew M. Cameron, the surgical director of liver transplantation at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“This is going to be an historic day in transplant,” said Dr. Cameron, adding that people who die for want of an organ do so mostly because there are not enough organ donors, not because of any shortcomings in medical technology. “The math will radically change, and we may well eliminate the problem.”

Dr. Cameron estimated that millions of people could shift their donation status overnight.

For now, the feature will only be available in select countries like the U.S. and U.K.

Yesterday, Facebook teased it would be releasing this new feature with "the power to save lives." What do you think of it?

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