It is said that there is no greater joy than saving a soul. Many people may be granted the opportunity to save someone’s soul at some point in the course of their life. This has become increasingly possible through virtual community interactions and initiatives and through social media platforms. One example is Facebook’s blood donation feature which allows interested users to get notified and respond to the needs of blood banks.
The current number of users who have already signed up to become donors through Facebook is estimated to be over 35 million people. The feature is said to be performing well in Brazil and India; two of the first countries where the feature was launched, a survey estimated that 20% of blood donors in blood banks were influenced by Facebook.
How Facebook’s Feature Helps Blood Banks
Shortage of Blood Donation is common in many countries with the continuing demand for blood donors. Facebook has seen the need to create such a feature, as many blood banks and people turn to Facebook when they are in need of blood donors. Facebook hopes to increase the number of blood donors, by facilitating connections with blood donors and those in need of donations. “Our mission is to connect people, and this is at its heart a connection problem” (Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook)
How the Feature Works
Users must first sign up to be blood donors from the “About” section of their Facebook profile. After getting permission from users, Facebook will thereby notify nearby donors with eligible blood types of blood donation demands upon requests. Donors can then respond to those events and requests and donate blood. Users could also use the tool to inspire their Facebook friends to donate too.
The feature is available to individuals in urgent need for blood donations in some countries. The feature could also create a sustainable supply of blood in some countries where the demand for blood donations is high.
Expansion of the Program
The program was launched in 2017 and made available in four countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, India, and Pakistan. After its success in those countries, the feature has been available in the United States since June 12, 2019. The platform is partnering with leading blood donation organisations across the U.S. The new launch in the United States is just ahead of World Blood Donor Day, founded by the World Health Organisation and held on June 14.
According to the American Red Cross, a person in the United States needs blood every two seconds. Yet, only 3 % of the public donates, and the number of people willing to give blood for the first time is decreasing. Historically organizations seeking blood donors used to organize blood donation campaigns in institutions like companies and schools, however, this is no longer a priority, as more and more people are working from home, leading them to engage less with such campaigns as Cliff Numark, senior vice president of blood services at the American Red Cross, says.
Donating blood has become more than a civic duty as it used to be in previous times. People now, and especially young donors, are concerned more with the impact their donation has on patients, and demand to know the purpose their blood is going to be used for. Facebook facilitates this as it highlights the personal stories of people by making it possible for them to share their experiences of donations. “When people see real names and real faces, they are more likely to jump in and support each other,” says Sandberg.
Numark says that the main reason for people not donating blood is not being asked to do so. He adds that” it’s possible Facebook could help to double the number of potential blood donors in the U.S”. This is made possible by revealing the need for blood donations and center for people interested in donating.
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