Bioethics Blogs

Living Organ Donations and Social Media

Articles about improving organ donation registration rates
by targeted social media campaigns have indicated that such efforts can
successfully increase the numbers of individuals who elect to become organ
(Pena, 2014) (Cameron AM,
While it is acknowledged that social medial is a useful medium for generating
widespread recognition of the need for organ donation, concerns about whether
or not donor registration actually increases donation rates is left unknown.
Additional concerns about such registrations meet the standards for informed
consent. These are productive conversations, and social media holds tremendous
potential for conveying information and generating levels of interest in topics
at a ‘viral’ level.

Discussions up to this point seem to focus on donation after
death, or in the context of imminent death. What has not been robustly
discussed is the role of social media in the role of live organ donation. How
should transplant programs view the relationship of acquaintances that begin on
social media in the context of seeking information or support related to organ
donation? Decisions to donate a solid organ, such as a kidney, ought not to be
undertaken lightly, and perhaps the screening process will weed out donors with
ambivalent intent or poor understanding of what they have offered a recipient.
Given that concerns about informed consent have been noted in prior studies, it
seems prudent to exercise added caution when approving donation transactions
initiated via social media outlets.

Questions about the altruism of donors who met a recipient
online are inevitable, but is it fair to levy judgment on donors and recipients
who use social media for such purposes? 

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.