Sunday, September 23, 2012

Looking for a Donor Organ?


We often associate searching for almost anything by querying Google. In fact the word “Google” is now synonymous with searching.

Social media now provides a new means of obtaining information. Now we can “Facebook” it.     

ABC's Robin Roberts, host of Good Morning America, (left) talks with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, in late April about the social network's push to get users to enroll as organ donors. This week Roberts is expected to receive a bone marrow transplant to treat  myelodysplastic syndrome.If Facebook has anything to do with it, more organs will be making their way to patients in need.

As reported in iHealthBeat (published by the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF)

Four months ago, Facebook launched an initiative that aims to leverage its network of 161 million users to more quickly match patients who are waiting for organ transplants with possible donors.

Blair Sadler -- an attorney and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement -- said the new Facebook feature "shows the enormous potential of social media," noting that people are more likely to be persuaded to donate by friends and family than by activists or public health officials.

Through the initiative, members of the social networking website can declare themselves as organ donors under a new "Health and Wellness" section, which includes biographical information and updates on their health. The section also includes links to state donor registries

In a recent opinion piece published by the Hastings Center, Sadler argued that more should be done to fully leverage the power of social media networks.

The announcement was greeted with great enthusiasm by leaders in the organ donation field. Andrew M. Cameron, the surgical director of liver transplantation at Johns Hopkins Hospital, stated in the New York Times,

Historically, 98 percent of registered organ donations come through the states’ departments of motor vehicles donor registration programs. While this is the most successful strategy for recruiting registered donors in most states, the numbers could pale by comparison if the full potential of social media could be harnessed by state donor registries.

Interactions with the DMV occur infrequently for most young people, compared to Facebook interactions, which occur multiple times every day. Indeed, if the full potential of Facebook and other social media were to be engaged over an extended period of time, it is possible that enough young people could be registered to address the needs of their own generation and beyond.

Facebook California ogan donor registrires

Inspiring stories of lives saved through organ and tissue donation could be posted on Facebook or tweeted to friends. To create the “stickiness” and staying power Gladwell describes, organ donation organizations need to embrace this new technology in a way that translates possibilities into reality.

State registries must also be easy to find and use. If the common perception is that in order to register as an organ donor, one needs to go through the DMV, people may be less inclined to donate. But if people know that they can register easily by visiting a Web site and clicking a button or two, their willingness should increase. State registries could include social sharing on their sites, so that once a person joins the registry, he or she has the option to share this information via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks which should drive awareness among family and friends.

Social media could also allow donor registries to advertise at no cost.

Of course all of the good features of Facebook would have to carefully be evaluated to eliminating the possibilities of PROFITEERING.  And this is a significant precautionary warning.  Identity verification, accountability and tracking are essential requirements.

The Facebook listing could easily become an eBay or Craigslist, Organ For Sale’

Medical professionals will be skeptical (and for  very good reasons)


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