Study shows social media’s potential to increase organ donations

We often think of social media as a way to connect with friends, family or customers, but new research shows it can also enable us to help others.

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When Facebook created a way for users to share their organ donor status and added links to make it easy to sign up as an organ donor, the social media site saw a 21.2-fold increase in new online donor registrations in one day.

While impressive, Johns Hopkins University researchers posted results in the American Journal of Transplantation that show the huge potential for social media as a public health tool.

“It’s the power of social networking as a source for public good,” said study leader Dr. Andrew Cameron, a transplant surgeon and Johns Hopkins University associate professor of surgery.

There certainly is a need for organ donors. According to statistics from the United Network for Organ Sharing, there are about 120,000 people on organ waiting lists, and 96,000 are waiting for kidneys alone. The Johns Hopkins University researchers said average daily organ donor registrations total 616 nationwide.

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