Facebook launches organ donation profile setting

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled a plan that he hopes will make it easier for users of the social networking site to donate organs.

From today, Facebook members in the UK and USA can select an option on their profile stating whether or not they are registered organ donors.

The aim is to encourage others to sign up as donors by raising awareness about the issue, to ensure that friends and family members know when someone is a registered donor and to help people in need of lifesaving transplants.

Mr Zuckerberg told Good Morning America that the project had been driven by his observations of Facebook's role in recovery efforts after recent natural disasters

"When the tornados came through in Missouri, a lot of people were using Facebook to organise and return items that were lost," he said. "In Japan, people were using Facebook to help locate their friends and families.

"We figured 'could we do anything to help people solve other types of issues, like all the people who need organ donations?'"

He also said that his friendship with Apple founder Steve Jobs – who had a liver transplant two years before he died - had inspired the move.

"As we were thinking through this, definitely, I think it's something we all had in mind," said Mr Zuckerberg.

Sheryl Sandberg, the company's chief operating officer, added: "Medical experts believe that broader awareness about organ donation could go a long way toward solving this crisis.

"We believe that by simply telling people that you're an organ donor, the power of sharing and connection can play an important role."

The feature was described as an "exciting new way" to encourage donation by a spokesman for the NHS Blood and Transplant department.

Last updated: 3:29pm, May 1 2012