At any given time, upwards of 100,000 people across the US are awaiting an organ transplant — and now some of them have figured out how to jump to the front of the line. By launching online petitions or soliciting donors on Facebook, some patients are able to find an organ they desperately need faster than conventional means usually allow.
The phenomenon is raising new questions and concerns for doctors and bioethicists, some of whom worry that social media threatens to turn organ donation into "a popularity contest." In the US, the distribution of organs from deceased individuals is carefully orchestrated in an effort to be as equitable as possible: recipients are selected based on factors like medical need and ability to withstand the procedure itself. But as The New Yorker points out, living donors can decide who gets their organ — and such decisions are increasingly influenced by online entreaties.