via iPhone gateway to organ donation, clarionledger.com
Our phones have become virtually an extension of our bodies, so perhaps it’s not surprising that those devices are becoming equipped with tools to make those bodies work better. Already, smartphones (and a fast-evolving universe of associated devices) can monitor and track our health, make it easier for us to eat right and exercise, and potentially extend our lives.
But industry leader Apple has announced its plans to take health a step further by enabling iPhone users to sign up to become organ and tissue donors when they die. In a unique partnership unveiled last week, Apple and Donate Life Americaannounced the upcoming iOS 10 update (scheduled for rollout in the fall) will include the option to register your wishes to donate your organs upon your death. Since there about 101 million iPhone users in the nation, that’s a lot of people who might not have considered making this life-saving decision.
Of course, anyone who has a Mississippi driver’s license is familiar with the decision to become an organ donor (indicated by a “heart” symbol). But this partnership promises to increase not only the number of people on the registry, but to raise awareness of the issue. In a news release, Apple noted that more than 120,000 Americans are waiting for life-saving organs, with many dying before organs become available. A new name is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes.
Here in Mississippi, the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency maintains Mississippi’s organ registry in collaboration with Donate Life America. The registry was started in 2008 by the Mississippi Legislature. MORA President and CEO Kevin Stump told me he’s excited about the new technology and its promise to increase awareness of the need for organ and tissue donation.
“I hope this announcement will help us solve part of the puzzle to someday ending deaths of those on the waiting list for a lifesaving transplant,” he said. “We want to give people in Mississippi and across the nation the opportunity to sign up and help others get their names on the registry.”
The registry he’s referring to is a national list of organ donors, maintained by Donate Life America. Stump noted Mississippi’s list includes about 1,200 people waiting on a “life-saving” organ transplant, with many others in need of organs or tissue to enhance their quality of life. Stump noted the Apple announcement had been in the works for about 18 months.
“On average, one person dies every hour in the United States waiting for an organ transplant because the demand for lifesaving transplants far exceeds the available supply of organs — and one donor can save as many as eight lives,” said David Fleming, president and CEO of Donate Life America. “By working with Apple to bring the National Donate Life Registry to the Health app on iPhone, we’re making it easier for people to find out about organ, eye and tissue donation and quickly register. This is a huge step forward that will ultimately help save lives.”
The new feature will be included in the “Medical ID” feature of the Health app, built into the iPhone’s operating system. Apple notes that Medical ID will make emergency information — including organ donor status — easily accessible for first responders.
“Apple’s mission has always been to create products that transform people’s lives. With the updated Health app, we’re providing education and awareness about organ donation and making it easier than ever to register. It’s a simple process that takes just a few seconds and could help save up to eight lives,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Together with Donate Life America, we’re excited to deliver this new feature to iPhone users in the U.S. with iOS 10.”