Facebook looks to connect patients with organ donors

Zuckerberg says social net users can update Timeline with donor status

Facebook launched a new tool today that co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg hopes will help connect patients with needed organ donors.

Zuckerberg announced in an interview on Good Morning America that starting today, users in the U.S. and the U.K. will be able to note in their Timeline that they're organ donors. They also will be able to find links to organ donor registries and easily sign up.

"Facebook is really about communicating and telling stories," Zuckerberg said. "We think that people can really help spread awareness of organ donation and that they want to participate in this to their friends. And that can be a big part of helping solve the crisis that's out there."

The Facebook co-founder said he decided to work on this project in part because of conversations he had with his girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, a medical student. However, he said he was also influenced by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' health crisis and the liver transplant that extended Jobs' life.

Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. He received a liver transplant in 2009 and died Oct. 5, 2011.

The announcement comes as Facebook is believed to be just weeks away from its initial public offering .

It was generally expected that the social network's highly anticipated IPO would launch in mid-May but then reports hit that two high-priced acquisitions - the purchase of Instagram and a separate acquisition of former AOL patents --could be distracting company executives enough to delay Facebook's IPO.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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