Facebook is urging its users to update their personal information to include organ donor status.
The social media company announced a plan Tuesday to encourage users to start advertising their donor status on their pages, along with their birth dates and schools — a move that it hopes will create peer pressure to nudge more people to add their names to the rolls of registered organ donors, the New York Times said.
The update will appear on a user's Timeline and in the About section of their profile. Users can also control who can view their organ donor status, USA Today said.
"Medical experts believe that broader awareness about organ donation could go a long way toward solving this crisis," said a statement from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. "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."
Facebook says the initiative was inspired by recent disasters such as last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the social network's role in keeping people connected.
"We never could have anticipated that what started as a small network would evolve into such a powerful tool for communication and problem solving," the statement said. "As this happens, we hope to build tools that help people transform the way we all solve worldwide social problems."
During an interview with Good Morning America, Zuckerberg delved deeper into the inspirations behind the organ donation project, including Facebook's role during catastrophic events.
"Recently, when the tornadoes came through in Missouri, a lot of people were using Facebook to organize and return items that were lost," Zuckerberg said. "In Japan, people were using Facebook to help locate their friends and families. So, we figured, could we do anything to help people solve other types of issues, like all the people who need organ donations?"
Zuckerberg also cited his girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, who is studying to become a pediatrician. "Our dinner conversations are often about Facebook and kids, and the kids that's she's meeting," he said. "She'll see them getting sicker, then, all of a sudden, an organ becomes available, and she comes home and her face is all lit up because someone's life is going to be better because of this."
April is Donate Life Month, a drive aimed at urging more people to become organ, eye and tissue donors. Nearly 7,000 people in the United States die each year while waiting for an organ transplant, a number Facebook hopes to lower with its vast network of 161 million members nationwide.the Times said. Nearly 114,000 more are waiting for a transplant, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
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