in Silicon Valley, a med school student whose boyfriend happens to be Mark Zuckerberg comes up with the idea of using Facebook status to signify organ donor acceptance and it is announced on May 1, 2012. Within a few hours, there are 39,000 occurrences of this announcement on Google, in English alone. So, with nearly 900 million FB subscribers around the world, has the social media giant potentially solved the organ donor problem around the world, just prior to its IPO?
Not really. First of all, even in the US, individuals must register on their state's donor registry to be sure that their wishes will be respected (Okay, Facebook facilitates the link to the registry). Secondly, while social media breaks down barriers between individuals, it doesn't substitute for national laws. And so, the sun sets on Facebook's empire, as soon as the question involves someone, even temporarily, situated outside of American borders. And fewer than 18% of FB subscribers are American.
In England, where the FB organ donor introduction is happening at the same time as in the US, a patient's family can refuse, after the individual's death.
France, whose famous Maginot line was unable to keep out invading armies, will nonetheless also apply different laws from the US as regards organ donor authorization. Yvanie Caillé, president of Renaloo, the French association of dialysis and kidney transplant patients told Silber's Blog that authorization is assumed in France, unless the person declared their opposition during their lifetime. So, the issue in France is not about authorization by the donor. There are other problems around organ donation.
And there are undoubtedly many variations and scenarios on the theme of these laws in the nearly 200 countries around the world.
But to end on a very positive note, let us remind ourselves that the Facebook announcement is generating tremendous good buzz about organ donation and that is, in and of itself, good for the cause, even if Facebook is not THE solution.