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Facebook Initiative Matches Patients with Organ Donors

Facebook Initiative Matches Patients with Organ Donors

Along with your birth date and school, Facebook members will now be able to announce their donor status on their Facebook page. Last week, Facebook launched an initiative that leverages its vast network of roughly 200 million members in the United States to match patients who are waiting for organ transplants with possible donors.  The change won’t only be introduced in the U.S., but also in the United Kingdom and several other countries in the coming months. Nearly 7,000 people in this country die each year while waiting for an organ, and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network currently has about 114,000 patients on its waiting list. Through the initiative, Facebook members can declare themselves as organ donors under a new “Health and Wellness” section. The section also includes biographical information, updates on their health (eg, weight loss, broken bones, etc), and links to state donor registries. This feature will also provide links to state online donor registries, where donor status can be updated. BJ Fogg, PhD, who studies how technology can change attitudes as director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, told The New York Times that the prominence of organ donation on the Facebook site “will trigger people to make an important decision about whether to be an organ donor, a decision most people in the last year haven’t even considered. If you see all your friends do it, or have the illusion all your friends are doing it, it sets up an expectation of sorts and it may become a social norm.” If social trends on Facebook can encourage users to update their relationship status, hopefully...
Surgeons Question New Transplant Guidelines

Surgeons Question New Transplant Guidelines

Surgeons are concerned that organ availability will decrease because new organ transplant guidelines call for stricter testing of organ donors. Issued by the CDC, the guidelines call for more updated and modern screening tests on organs being considered for transplant,  recommending that organ donors be checked for HIV and hepatitis B and C using the most sensitive screening method, known as nucleic acid testing. Between 2007 and 2010, the CDC found more than 200 cases of suspected HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C transmission through transplants; some of the cases resulted in the deaths of the organ recipients. More disturbingly, the CDC also discovered that as of 2008, only about half of the 58 organ procurement organizations in this country voluntarily tested for HIV and hepatitis C on all or some of the potential donors. Nucleic-acid testing can detect an infection acquired 7 days before testing. Standard blood tests measures antibodies to an infection that may take months to appear. Only about half of procurement labs in the country voluntary use the newer test, but it can double screening costs. While surgeons fully support guidelines that may help to decrease disease transmission, they feel that this concern should be balanced with the risks of dying without an organ transplant. However, organs that test positive for infections other than HIV can still be transplanted; stricter screening would just make physicians more aware of potential complications of infections when they do occur. Physician’s Weekly wants to know… Are surgeons overreacting or will stricter screening delay the process and drive up medical...
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