Social media and organ donor registration: the Facebook effect

Am J Transplant. 2013 Aug;13(8):2059-65. doi: 10.1111/ajt.12312. Epub 2013 Jun 18.


Despite countless media campaigns, organ donation rates in the United States have remained static while need has risen dramatically. New efforts to increase organ donation through public education are necessary to address the waiting list of over 100,000 patients. On May 1, 2012, the online social network, Facebook, altered its platform to allow members to specify "Organ Donor" as part of their profile. Upon such choice, members were offered a link to their state registry to complete an official designation, and their "friends" in the network were made aware of the new status as a donor. Educational links regarding donation were offered to those considering the new organ donor status. On the first day of the Facebook organ donor initiative, there were 13 054 new online registrations, representing a 21.1-fold increase over the baseline average of 616 registrations. This first-day effect ranged from 6.9× (Michigan) to 108.9× (Georgia). Registration rates remained elevated in the following 12 days. During the same time period, no increase was seen in registrations from the DMV. Novel applications of social media may prove effective in increasing organ donation rates and likewise might be utilized in other refractory public health problems in which communication and education are essential.

Keywords: Facebook; organ donation; social media; social networks.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Communication
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Registries
  • Social Media*
  • Tissue Donors / psychology*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*