Ways Facebook Could Promote Saving Lives Beyond Organ Donations

Where To Add Organ Donor Info on Facebook
Where To Add Organ Donor Info on Facebook

I read today that Facebook is encouraging organ donations.  I think this is a great effort and more people should be organ donors.  Ultimately I want this campaign to be successful (and it looks like it is) , but I do have a few concerns:

  1. This feature is kind of hidden away.  In fact, I didn’t realize the amount of “Timeline Life Events” I could indicate until I started writing this.  This speaks to a larger problem Facebook has with rolling out new site changes without really communicating to their end-users that it’s happened. See the blog post photo to help with finding this feature’s location.
  2. Life Event or Ease of Use? Part of the challenge in organ donations is that it makes us confront our mortality.  I’m not sure Facebook, with its real-time & past timeline focus, changes that mindset. Being an organ donor is kind of like the ultimate bucket list item – one day you’re gonna go and hopefully save some lives when it happens – but does that energy exist as a “life event” when you sign up?  Is it easy for me to just “like” that someone is a donor, but not do it myself or declare that I am one?  Is the campaign’s success hinged on it being a “life event” or that it’s just easier for people to sign up since usually we’re asked to make this decision only every few years with our driver’s license renewals?
  3. Other Life Saving But Less Mortality Confronting Campaigns. Why not start with something life-saving that is also giving…while you’re still living?
    1. Bone Marrow: Why not start a campaign for more people to register as Bone Marrow Donors?  Bone marrow donors require a genetic match and the more people who register, the more likely it is that a person who is suffering from life-threatening diseases like cancer can find a match.
    2. Blood Donations: Why isn’t Giving Blood a life event? According to the Red Cross, “currently only 3 out of every 100 people in America donate blood” and “1 pint of blood can save up to 3 lives.”  And if you donate platelets, one donation can be worth 3 single doses for 3 patients – the equivalent of 12-18 whole blood donations.
My third point is also something that can use the communication power of Facebook to its advantage.  A Facebook user could receive an annual “Did you update your contact information to the Bone Marrow registry?” or a time-sensitive “It’s been three months since your Blood Donation Life Event.  Consider donating again.”  Obviously, allow the user to opt-out of these notifications, but I wouldn’t mind an unobtrusive friendly reminder that I should make an appointment with the Red Cross or update my address.  It’s better than an ad about something I wouldn’t buy…and it could save a life or three.