Politics

Lawmakers applaud new Facebook organ donor program

Capitol Hill lawmakers took favorable notice Tuesday of Facebook’s new program to allow users to share with their friends the fact that they are organ donors.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced Tuesday that users would be able to share with friends their organ donor status on Facebook Timeline, as well as share their story about how they made the decision.

The new feature also provides a link that enables prospective donors to register with the official donor registry.

“Today, more than 114,000 people in the United States, and millions more around the globe, are waiting for the heart, kidney or liver transplant that will save their lives,” said Zuckerberg and Sandberg. ”And we believe that by simply telling people that you’re an organ donor, the power of sharing and connection can play an important role.”

Republicans and Democrats applauded the effort Tuesday, hailing the initiative as a new and innovative way to save lives. The social network boasts 900 million users worldwide. Two-thirds of Americans have a Facebook profile.

Former Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Frist, a physician who used to “transplant hearts weekly,” posted an enthusiastic reaction to his Facebo0k page.

“23 years ago I tried to increase organ donation the old way, by writing a book on the new miracle of transplantation,” wrote Frist. “I attached an organ donor card to every book. I reached a few thousand people. Today with the Facebook tool we can reach millions over the next few hours. Social media can give thousands a new chance at life. Now go sign up!”

California Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack, chairwoman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, issued similar praise.

Bono Mack, a leader on consumer privacy issues in the House, said, “I commend Facebook for undertaking this important new public service campaign and for doing it in such a responsible way.”

Democratic Reps. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Judy Chu of California and Charles A. Gonzalez of Texas issued a statement about how the new Facebook program had the potential to positively impact minority communities.

“Roughly 50.5% of the 114,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant are minority community members,” they said. “Due to a lack of donors, 18 people die every day yet a single organ donor can save 8 lives.”

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