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Facebook users ‘Like’ organ donation

like buttonWhat’s one way to dramatically boost the rate of organ donation registration? Put it on social media. In one day, organ-donation registrations increased 21-fold after Facebook added a “share organ donor status” to its lineup in May 2012, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. The project launched May 1, and that day saw 13,012 new online organ-donor registrations (compared to the 616 registrations that typically occur on a normal day). At the end of two weeks, the registration rate was still twice what it was previously.

Experts hope the social media trend will be a new avenue in which to target potential donors and help address the nation’s organ shortage. The number of donors has remained largely unchanged over the past 20 years, while the number of people in need of transplants has increased 10-fold, leaving some to die while awaiting the lifesaving procedure. According to estimates, as many as 10,000 suitable donors die every year; because they have not signed on as organ donors, their organs can’t be used. The findings were published in the American Journal of Transplantation.

If you’re interested in becoming an organ donor (it’s easy, you’re never too old and most people qualify), register online.