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Trading: What Impact Will Facebook Have on Organ Donations?

from Scientific American

Since launching in February 2004, Facebook has proved highly effective at creating opportunities for the average Web user to create campaigns that reach a mass audience. Most recently such opportunities have extended to organ donation, an area that could benefit from the social network's attention--controversy over its recent initial public offering aside, Facebook's membership is more than 900 million and growing.

Indeed, with demand for healthy organs for transplantation growing worldwide, Facebook has already become a popular channel for people soliciting kidneys, livers and other potentially lifesaving organs. Earlier this month the social network began offering members the ability to identify themselves as organ donors on their Facebook pages and to locate state organ-donation registries if they would like to become donors.

Last October a team of researchers at Loyola University Medical Center began tracking how Facebook was being used as a tool for connecting potential donors with those in need of an organ. The researchers focused on kidney solicitations in particular and studied 91 Facebook pages seeking kidney donations for patients ranging in age from two to 69. Of the Facebook pages studied, 12 percent reported receiving a kidney transplant and 30 percent reported that potential donors had stepped forward to be tested to determine whether they were compatible, the researchers recently reported at a meeting of the National Kidney Foundation. One page reported that more than 600 people had been tested as potential donors for a young child.

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