May 2, 2012

Canadian organ donors spike just a day after Facebook tool launch

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FILE - In this Sept. 22;2011 file photo;Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg smiles during the f/8 conference in San Francisco. Facebook will go public on May 18;2012;a published report says;in one of the most highly anticipated tech initial public offerings since Google went public in August 2004.

Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma;File , AP Photo

Victoria Revay, Global News : Wednesday, May 02, 2012 1:30 PM

TORONTO – The saying, “If you build it, they will come” has inspired many to action in achieving their goals. But when it comes to Facebook’s influence, just talking about a cause can incite people to action.

Since announcing the launch of a new organ donor tool on Tuesday, currently only available in the United States and the United Kingdom, Canadian organ donation has already seen a steep increase, according to a spokesperson at Toronto-based Trillium Gift of Life Network.

Trillium is Ontario’s organ and tissue donation agency. Leona Hollingsworth, media advisor for Trillium, confirmed to Globalnews.ca on Wednesday that even though the donor tool isn’t available to Canadian Facebook users yet, the organization already saw a sharp climb in donors due to the recent media coverage.

“We had 363 registrations yesterday, while our average would be about 50 a day.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the social media giant decided to start this initiative after realizing that users were interacting with the site to solve issues, such as finding missing people and items during emergency events, pointing to recent tornadoes that slammed the U.S. Midwest as an example. The late CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, a friend of Zuckerberg was also an influence for the project, since he received a liver transplant.

In the U.S., media is reporting that in just one day, 10 states have seen a “significant spike” in organ donor registration as a result of the tool. By Tuesday evening, 100,000 users declared themselves organ donors on Facebook and amongst them, 10,000 had linked through Facebook to sign-up directly with their state organ donation registries.

Versha Prakash, vice president of operations at Trillium says the organization is “very excited that Facebook has chosen to highlight the importance of organ and tissue donation.” Prakash says their own initiative called the Gift of 8 Movement also harnesses the power of social media by allowing anyone to sign up for organ donation through www.BeADonor.ca. Once signed-up, donors can share this as an update through Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook says the organ donor tool will be available in Canada and the rest of the world in a few weeks to a few months, but couldn’t offer more specific details of the launch.

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