Conversations over the dinner table with his med-student girlfriend helped Mark Zuckerberg formulate his latest big idea – harnessing the power of Facebook to help eliminate the critical shortage of organs for patients desperately in need of life-saving transplants.
And it was his friendship with Apple founder Steve Jobs, whose life was extended by years following a liver transplant, in part, that spurred the 27-year-old Facebook founder and CEO to help put that idea into practice.
“Facebook is really about communicating and telling stories… 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,” Zuckerberg told ABC’s Robin Roberts in an exclusive interview at the company’s headquarters.
Starting today, users in the United States and U.K. will be able to add that they’re organ donors to their Timelines, and if they’re not organ donors, they can find links to official organ donation registries and instantly enroll. “We want to make it simple,” said Zuckerberg. “You just put in the state or country that you’re from, so that we can help link you to the official registries.”
In the “health and wellness” section of users’ timelines, users can list their status as organ donors and explain the decision to their friends, in an effort to raise awareness about the need for donors.
More than 112,000 Americans are awaiting organs, and 18 people die every day from the lack of available organs, according to Donate Life America, a nonprofit alliance that is partnering with Facebook.
Zuckerberg, 27, has made a fortune on the idea that people want to share everything – from photos, to the intimate details of their romantic lives.
Yet, Zuckerberg himself is famously private, keeping details of his personal life – not to mention a much-anticipated Facebook IPO – under tight wraps.
In conversation with Roberts, Zuckerberg kept the door on the IPO tightly shut – citing the government-mandated quiet period before the IPO – and saying only “we try to keep very focused on the long term… We’ll be judged by how good the things are that we build and whether people like them.”
But he revealed some small details of his personal life, lighting up when talking about the dinnertime chats he had with girlfriend Priscilla Chan that helped lead to the donation initiative.
Read more on Good Morning America.