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Health: Study Shows Facebook Initiative To Boost Organ Donation Registration Worked

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stephanie-web Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As the little girl who got a life-saving lung transplant continues to recover, there’s new research out showing how social media can increase organ donations.

The shortage of donated organs has been in the spotlight with the plight of Sarah Murnaghan, who finally got a transplant last week after winning a legal fight. Facebook has been trying to increase donations, and on Tuesday, a study was released showing the effort worked. People saved by the gift of life are forever grateful.

“I thank God every day,” says Melissa Coleman, whose life was saved by Gail Clegg.

When Gail’s 15-year-old son Sean was killed in a bike accident, she donated his organs. Melissa got his kidney.

“I live each and every day like it’s a brand new day because of the gift of life and organ transplantation,” adds Melissa.

She isn’t the only one. Sean’s organs went to six people. Stefania got his heart and went on to have twins. Many of the recipients are now part of Gail’s new family.

“Quite honestly, it saved my life as much as it saved hers and the others, because my family has gotten huge. I just didn’t bury my son. I actually gained a huge family,” Gail explains.

Melissa was on the waiting list for four years. She was lucky; many patients die because there aren’t enough donors.

But Facebook is trying to change that by creating a way for users to share their organ donor status.

The just-released study shows that on May 1, 2012 — the day the initiative began — there was a 21-fold increase in donor registrations.

“We are all for having people get more new leases on life,” says Melissa.

Researchers say the Facebook project shows that social media could be an important new way to increase donors.

Ten-year-old Sarah Murnaghan almost died waiting for donor lungs at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The transplant happened only after her family won a legal fight.

Her mom has been using Facebook to raise awareness about organ donation and give updates on Sarah.

“I’m very glad that the family, whoever it was, chose to donate,” says Gail about Sarah’s situation.

We don’t know anything about Sarah’s donor. While she’s improving slowly, she’s still on a ventilator.

You, too, can become an organ donor and let your friends know your donor status on Facebook.

To become a donor through Facebook, visit: https://www.facebook.com/help/416967021677693

For more on becoming an organ donor, visit Gift of Life: http://www.donors1.org

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