Facebook demonstrated the immense power of its marketing muscle yesterday after boss Mark Zuckerberg announced on morning TV that the social network was allowing its 900 million users to begin registering online as organ donors.
Within hours , an organisation in California reported a 700 per cent leap in people registering as donors. Facebook said last night that were "on track" to have 100,000 pople declare they were registered donors on Timeline as their profile page is now known.
The scheme , initially available in Britain and America, looks set to spark a huge jump in transplant donors , with the the ability to bring in young people a key element.
Zuckerberg said his friendship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs , who got a liver transplant before he died last year, helped spur the idea. Mark had also talked talks with his,girlfriend medical student Priscilla Chan.
The organisation that reported a 700 per cent spike within hours of Zuckerberg's announcement was Donate Life California, which is partnering with Facebook. By 5pm the figure was up to 1400%.
CEO Charlene Zitte said that the group got about 75 online sign-ups most days. By 11:20 a.m. yesterday , it had already received 416.
On "Good Morning America" Zuckerberg said they were allowing people to mark the date they became a registered donor on their Facebook Timeline in both America and Britain via links to official registries . The links should make it easier for people who want to donate their organs to sign up.
There was no word yet of sign-up totals in Britain and other parts of the US.
Charlene said,"We are seeing an immediate spike. It's a great day. The reality is we're saving lives today and I am so grateful to Mark Zuckerberg for his leadership, for being such a wonderful citizen."
More than 112,000 Americans are waiting for organs and 18 people die every day .
Transplant surgeon Dr. Marc Melcher , of California''s Stanford Hospital said Facebook had brought "a bolt of hope… It was really amazing they took a big step like that," , He changed his own Facebook profile to indicate he was a donor by 6:30 a.m. yesterday
Robert Redford's son James , a liver transplant surrvivor, endured the wait for a matching donor. He said the Facebook initiative should make things easier. "It's not saying you have to do it. I don't believe you should ever say that. It's allowing you to make a choice -- if you want, you can."
Facebook users who are already organ donors can add that information to their profile page, now known as their Timeline.
"We never could have anticipated that what started as a small network would evolve into such a powerful tool for communication and problem solving," Zuckerberg and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a blog post.
"We hope to build tools that help people transform the way we all solve worldwide social problems."
Facebook is preparing an initial public stock offering expected later this month that could value the the company' at $100 billion.