The Relationship Between Social Media and Organ Donation? It’s Complicated.

SLATE | Jacob Brogan
For transplant centers, these occasional, often social media–driven spikes of interest can be difficult
A year and a half ago, transplant surgeon Talia Baker, who specializes in living donors, found herself with an unlikely problem: She had too many people offering up their organs.

Baker was taking care of a baby, only a few months old, with just days to live. When it turned out that neither parent was a match for the organ the child so desperately needed, the baby’s social media–savvy mother posted an entreaty on Facebook, alone with the donor hotline number for Baker’s transplant center. Her post, which Baker calls “heart-wrenching,” spread rapidly, and within 24 hours, they’d received more than 100 offers to donate.
Some surgeons worry that the ease of Facebook entreaties might inspire donors to make decisions too lightly.
“We work in feast and famine,” Baker says of her profession. “Sometimes there’ll be a ton of organs and we’re up for a week. … And then we’ll have two weeks where we do nothing.” But even compared with feast times, the generosity inspired by this child would have been remarkable, a clear product of the deeply felt connections that strangers can form on social media. Continue reading

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