By Jane Buckle, produced for online by Ainsley O’Keefe
Facebook has launched a new initiative to encourage organ donation in the United States and the United Kingdom and experts hope it will be launched in Australia.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg has announced US and UK Facebook users can now list themselves as organ donors on their profile.
Yael Cass, CEO of the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation Authority, has spoken to Facebook about its plans to launch the initiative in Australia.
She believes it will be a useful tool in encouraging conversation about donation among family members.
“More than 80 per cent of Australians support organ and tissue donation, but sadly only six out of 10 of us tell our families,” she said.
“It means that families can have that discussion in a hospital with confidence and hold up the wishes of their family member.”
Medical ethicist Dr Katrina Bramstedthas welcomed Zuckerberg’s decision and hopes it will reach Australian users of the site soon.
“He has touched on something very sensitive and something very human, and that is kind of refreshing,” Dr Bramstedt said.
“This could start some debate and maybe it could lead to some policy change.”
By law, family members can override an individual’s wish to donate organs in Australia.
Publicising your wishes on Facebook will not be legally binding.
Social media expert Natalie Alaimo says because Facebook is such a widespread technology and tool, they have the ability to act on social responsibilities.
“I think it is something that probably the organ donor registery would have loved to have done themselves, but really don’t have the resources to do so,” she said.
“So when someone like Facebook comes along and is able to lead this campaign, I think it can only result in positivity.”