3 May 2012
Facebook users in the United States and Britain will now be able to show on their page whether they wish to donate their organs. The hope is that it will encourage more people to register as organ donors.
Click to hear the report
Nearly 7,000 people in the United States die each year while waiting for an organ transplant and around 10,000 people in Britain are on the waiting list for an organ. With the huge numbers of Facebook members in both countries, the social networking site hopes its foray into social engineering will make a big impact.
An American liver transplant director at a major hospital, Dr Andrew Cameron, called it a historic day and speculated it may well eliminate the problem of people dying while waiting for a transplant.
As well as registering as donors, people are posting their personal stories of why they are donating. Debbie Greenwood from Manchester, 336 friends: "My 5-year-old grandson had a combined liver and kidney transplant 18 months ago, his life is now 100% better and we are eternally grateful to the donor family, whom we have met."
Facebook says the initiative is about making it easier on families, as they are more likely to know their loved one's donor status in advance. It's also about encouraging people who may have thought about it, but not got around to it or who might be inspired to donate if they find out that their friends are doing it. The British site already has nearly 70,000 Facebook likes and climbing.
Click to hear the vocabulary
- an organ transplant
surgery to transfer part of someone's body to someone else's
- the waiting list
a roll of people wanting to obtain something
movement into an unfamiliar area
- social engineering
measures to make changes to society
thought, reasoned, theorised
enrolling, formally indicating interest
joint, together at the same time
- eternally grateful
- in advance
ahead of time