New Facebook Organ Donor App May Lead to Illegal Organ Trafficking

Since Facebook released its new organ donation app, people have been raving about its potential benefits. Easing the registration process to donate organs and raising awareness of organ donations by sharing your registration status has already increased organ donation registration. In California alone, the average daily registration increased from 70 to 1,200. Mark Zuckerberg’s dream to reduce the organ supply shortage may have come true. 

But, this app could have negative consequences. The app to publicize a person’s organ donation registration status could increase illegal organ donations, organ brokering, and organ trafficking – all of which are transnational crimes.

Transplant commercialization is illegal in every country accept Iran. Under the Declaration of Istanbul, the transaction of exchanging organs for a profit is illegal when an organ is treated as a commodity, including being bought or sold or used for material gain. This law means even if someone decides to sell an organ or tissue to a friend, such action is illegal.

The new Facebook donation app encourages this problem. By advertising to your friends and possibly the public, depending on your privacy settings, Facebook is indirectly promoting the exchange of organs.

The low supply of organ donations coupled with the high demand for transplants makes people desperate for organs when the need arises. In the U.S. alone, 18 people die a day from not receiving organ transplants. With statistics like this in mind, many people would go to extreme lengths to obtain necessary organs.  

The new possibility of knowing if your friend is a donor will lead people to offer material benefits for organs. Organ recipients desperate for an organ can offer friends benefits in exchange, for example, kidneys. The Facebook organ donation app may propel two people to commit a crime.

With this list, friends can use Facebook as an organ brokering service. If someone needed an organ, they can use this app to find potential matches.

Organ brokers can use this app to take the brokering process even further. Organ brokers could use word of mouth to find organ donors and recipients. If an organ broker in the U.S. or the U. K. were to use the new Facebook organ donation app, Facebook would, then, be an official means for organ trafficking.

This form of matching could make Facebook liable for organ brokering. To be liable, the defect must cause the injury. In this case, Zuckerberg’s Facebook organ donations app can cause illegal organ matching by making a public list of organ donors, which is now illegal in the U.S. Levi Rosenbaum set the precedent that matching organ donors and recipients together to perform organ transplants for material gain is illegal.

The Facebook organ donation app ultimately encourages the material exchange of organs and fosters organ brokering, which can lead to organ trafficking. Zuckerberg could have a huge liability claim on his hands.