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Social Network Makes Life Saving Upgrade

What has been the realm of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has now become a Facebook add on. Renewing your driver?s license includes a check box where you can agree to be an organ donor. Facebook added a link to make signing up easier than a trip to the dreaded DMV.

Organs such as liver, heart, and lungs can be recovered from one person?s body and transplanted to another person?s body. The donor doesn?t necessarily have to die to give. Kidneys frequently are donated by a living individual to save the life of a loved one or friend. Sometimes a more-than-generous person donates to a stranger whose story has touched them.

California Donor License PlateCharlene Zittel, the CEO of Donate Life California, spoke to KGO 810 radio in San Francisco. She said that after the announcement by Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook is providing a link for registrants, their signups increased by 1,500 percent. By 6:30pm Tuesday night, 1,239 new people had registered to be a donor. Previously, few people had accessed the site directly to sign up.

Overall in California, more than 9 million people have previously agreed to become organ donors, 95 percent of which resulted from the DMV checkbox. Individuals can become an organ, eye, or tissue donor. Zittel said over 22,000 people in California are on the national waiting list hoping for a donor?s gift of life. The organization indicates the odds are that one third of them will die while they wait for the donor who never steps forward.

Zittel emphasized that Facebook involvement will be a gateway to reaching previously elusive 15-19 year olds. She reminded us that anyone under 18 must obtain their parent?s permission to become a donor.

Priscilla received a heart transplant before she reached her third birthday

Priscilla received a heart transplant before she reached her third birthday

Facebook is issuing an update to Timeline. When you click to Donate Life America, you must designate your state. Zittel represents Donate Life California. If you want to participate and consider giving what only you can give, go to Timeline, click on Life Event, then select Health and Wellness and choose Organ Donor. You need to click on the Officially Register link to register in your state.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, became interested in the subject through his girlfriend who is a med student. He told Robin Roberts of ABC news "Facebook is really about communicating and telling stories… We think that people can really help spread awareness of organ donation." David Fleming, President and CEO of Donate Life America stated that "Thousands of lives will be saved or healed as a result of this initiative." In 2011, 28,535 organ transplants were performed. So many more are needed.

In recent years, diabetes has been cured with a pancreas transplant or by using cells that produce insulin from the pancreas. Living individuals can give a kidney, a lobe of their lung, a portion of their liver, pancreas, or intestine. It reminds me of the question: "Brother, can you spare a dime?" Well, brother what can you spare? Now, and at the time of your death.

There are other less dramatic ways to help ? donations of blood are always needed. One blood donation can save up to three lives. Bone marrow or stem cell transplants can treat leukemia and other life threatening diseases. I?ve personally witnessed this type of success in a co-worker.

You can sign up for the National Marrow Donor Program that attempts to match potential donors with needy patients using a simple blood test. Only one third of those patients will have a match within their own family – Love Thy Neighbor comes to mind in such situations.

You use Facebook to brag, to share, to communicate. Now you can use it for a purpose larger than yourself. Help spread the word about organ donation, encourage your "Friends" to follow your lead ? Become a donor; Save a life.

In the two hours it has taken to research and write this article, 251 more people have signed up at Donate Life California. Way to go, Friends!!