(Reuters) - Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said there was a need to raise organ donation awareness and he encouraged the social network's members to speak up if they are donors.
"What we hope will happen is that by just having a simple tool, we think that people can really help spread awareness of organ donation and that they want to participate in this to their friends, and we think that can be a big part in helping to solve the crisis," Zuckerberg said on ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" program on Tuesday.
Zuckerberg explained that he was in part inspired by dinner conversations with his girlfriend, a pediatrician in training, and by observing what members achieved in times of crisis.
"When the tornadoes came through in Missouri a lot people were using Facebook to organize and return items that were lost to people who thought they would never find them," Zuckerberg said.
He added that he hoped when members explained how they came to be organ donors and advertised that they are organ donors on their pages, it would inspire others who were undecided about the issue.
Surveys have pointed to reasons as to why not enough people consent to be donors. Many are unaware of the great need for donor organs, while others mistrust the medical establishment and think they will not get life-saving measures if doctors know they are a donor.
An average of 79 people receive organ transplants every day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
However, an average 18 people die each day waiting for transplants because of the shortage of donated organs.
(Reporting By Nicola Leske; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)