Death + Popular Culture Death + Technology Death + the Web

Facebook likes Organ Donation


Facebook Users Can Add Organ Donor Status
Hayley Tsukayama, The Washington Post (May 01, 2012)
Facebook has added a unique feature to its social network: you can now tell the world — or just your family members — that you’re an organ donor.


Facebook in Organ Donation Push
James Gallagher, BBC News (May 01, 2012)
Three people die every day while waiting for a transplant, NHS says. NHS
Blood and Transplant said the partnership was an “exciting new way” to
encourage donation. Around 10000 people in the UK are on the waiting list
for an organ.

A quick post on a story from yesterday’s news that we at the Death Reference Desk expect many people caught. Facebook, and more specifically Mark Zuckerberg, announced that FB users can now use their Facebook accounts to register as Organ Donors. Here is how it works:

  1. Go to your account and click on Life Event
  2. Click on Health & Wellness
  3. Click on Organ Donor and then enter whatever information you want about being a donor.

If you are in the United Kingdom and want to be an organ, tissue, and/or bone donor but are not yet on the NHS Donor Registry then the UK version of FB enables you to sign up.

I’m a registered organ donor in both America (on my Great State of Wisconsin drivers license) and the UK via the donor registry. I am also now an official Facebook organ donor(!) so you know it’s for real.


Two things to say about this move by Facebook. First off, it’s a good idea. The more that people discuss end of life decisions, such as organ donation, before a person is hooked up to a ventilator and unable to communicate is always helpful. Indeed, this new FB Life Event option is being trumpeted as a way for individuals to unequivocally demonstrate their commitment to postmortem organ donation. This is important so that next-of-kin do not block the use of said organs when the time comes for a decision.

Here is my second take. By making this move, Facebook is entering into a world of longer sustainability. For all of FB’s novelty (and sometimes silliness) this organ donation option means that users can now begin managing their end of life planning through Facebook. This is key. Countless other interweb companies have sprung up to manage these end of life issues, especially for deceased FB users, and Death Ref has covered those companies here. Yet Facebook itself hasn’t really ventured into the reality of death, or that its users die.

I fully expect that Facebook central will eventually add a funeral planning option for its account holders. Down the road.

And by attaching a person’s future/inevitable death to a Facebook account Mark Zuckerberg might just create that one internet app that everyone will want in order to plan a funeral.

Thus demonstrating Death Ref’s Rule #1 for any user based technology: Everybody eventually dies.

Including Facebook users.

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