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Adding 'Organ Donor' to Facebook Ups Registration

FRIDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- Initiation of the Facebook organ donor initiative has dramatically increased organ donor registration, according to a study published online June 18 in the American Journal of Transplantation.

Noting that, as of May 1, 2012, Facebook's platform allowed members to specify "organ donor" as part of their profile, Andrew M. Cameron, M.D., Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues compared the organ donor registrations after the launch of the Facebook organ donor initiative to simultaneous motor vehicle organ registration.

The researchers found that, upon being offered the organ donor profile choice, members were presented with a link to their state registry to complete an official designation, and their "friends" in the network were made aware of their new status as a donor. For those considering the new organ donor status, educational links regarding donation were offered. On day one of the Facebook organ donor initiative there were 13,054 new online registrations, a 21.1-fold increase over the average of 616 registrations at baseline. Online registration rates on the first day ranged from 6.9-fold (Michigan) to 108.9-fold (Georgia). For the next 12 days, registration rates remained elevated. No simultaneous increase in registrations was seen for the Department of Motor Vehicles.

"Our research speaks to on-going efforts to address the organ availability crisis in the United States. It also suggests that social media and social networks may be valuable tools in re-approaching refractory public health problems," Cameron said in a statement. "However, the bump we saw did diminish over weeks, implying that more work is needed to assure sustainability or 'virality' in this case."

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