Bishop's Stortford: Facebook Users Urged To Sign Donor Register
3 May 2012, 05:40 | Updated: 3 May 2012, 06:07
A Bishop's Stortford father, whose son almost died before receiving a liver and kidney transplant, has called for Facebook users to register their interest in organ donation online.
Philip Barton said if users write about their feelings on the subject on the website, it could save the lives of children like his son, Kian.
Mr Barton made his comments as the social media giant announced that users could indicate their thoughts on organ donation using their timelines.
After people have expressed their interest, they are encouraged to sign up to the organ donor register on NHS Blood and Transplant's (NHSBT) page on the site.
Mr Barton, from Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, said Kian suffered from liver disease and kidney failure from a young age.
"The only option for him was transplant,'' he said. "There was no other choice. It was that or certain death.''
His son received a partial liver and kidney transplant from an adult donor in January 2009.
Mr Barton added: "He is doing really well now - he had such a bad start to life, he was so ill - but now he is in school and it is fantastic to see.
"People don't realise that there are children waiting for transplants.
"I think this new venture is brilliant because Facebook has such a large demographic and it is increasing in popularity. We need to get as many people as possible on to the register.
"Facebook becoming involved in something like this is a massively positive step.''
Now users on the site can add information about their thoughts on organ donation by clicking on the health and well-being section on their timeline. But they are not on the official register until they sign up.
Sally Johnson, NHSBT's director of organ donation and transplantation, hopes it will make more people sign the register.
She said it would also make users' family and friends aware of their views on donating their organs after death.
Ms Johnson said: "We need more people to sign up to the register and share their wishes with their friends and family. Our job is to make that as quick and easy as possible.
"This is an exciting new way to use the power of social media to reach a huge audience and encourage people to think about it, act and share that information.''
Facebook's UK director of policy Simon Milner said: "Small acts of kindness happen every day on Facebook but we hope that our partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant will use the power of friendship to save lives.
"We hope that as a result of this partnership, UK Facebook users will together be able to reduce the number of people who needlessly die waiting for an organ each year.''
At the moment, around 10,000 people need a transplant in the UK and three people die every day while on the waiting list.