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Facebook rolls out Blood Donations feature in US

By: - City Desk Editor / @DLejanoINQ
/ 07:01 PM June 12, 2019
blood donations facebook

Hema Budaraju (left), Facebook’s Product Director for Health, talks about Blood Donations with a panel of experts and stakeholders during Facebook’s International Press Day held at Menlo Park, California on June 11, 2019. Photo by Don Lejano/INQUIRER.net

MENLO PARK, California — Blood donation—very much like social networks—is all about connections.

That’s why following reported success in India, Brazil, Bangladesh and Pakistan, Facebook is rolling out its Blood Donations feature in key United States cities starting Wednesday, hoping to tap more people to lend an arm and donate blood.

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READ: Sharing blood connects donors and patients

This announcement was made at the Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, California, where journalists from over 30 countries were gathered to attend the social media giant’s first ever International Press Day. 

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‘Blood is an everyday need’

“Every two seconds, someone in the US needs blood, and one donation can potentially save three lives,” said Hema Budaraju, Facebook’s Product Director for Health, as she lamented the challenges in recruiting blood donors in America.

From what the experts gathered, people don’t donate blood because they don’t get asked.

And so by activating the Blood Donations tool in the US, Budaraju said they were hoping “to help raise awareness and make it easier for people to find opportunities to donate.”

Initial rollout

Among the cities that will be able to use this feature starting Wednesday are Chicago, New York, San Francisco Bay Area, Baltimore and Washington, DC. Blood Donations will be rolled out in the remainder of the United States in the coming months.

With this latest development, Facebook is hoping to see the same success it had in India and Brazil where 20 percent of people who donated blood said that Facebook influenced their decision to donate. 

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Since 2017, more than 35 million people have donated blood in India, Brazil, Pakistan and Bangladesh through Facebook and its partners.

So how does it work?

Starting Wednesday, people in the mentioned US cities can be a blood donor on Facebook by signing up in Blood Donations which they can see on the About section of their profile. 

Photo from Facebook

Once they have signed up, they will get notified whenever a blood donation center near them is running short of blood and is in need of donors. Through this Facebook tool, people are going to be made aware of opportunities to donate.

Photo from Facebook

Will this feature be available in the Philippines and other countries as well?

“Based on the learning that we have, my hope is that, if we build a valuable service like this, then hopefully we can bring it to every country, but right now we are focused on these five countries and we are going to learn as best as we can here,” Budaraju told INQUIRER.net.

Blood Donations is developed by Facebook’s Social Good team, the same group behind the tool that lets people mark themselves “safe” during disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis.

‘Blood donations as way of life’

In the US, Blood Donations’ partners include the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, Stanford Blood Center, New York Blood Center, Inova, Versiti, Vitalant, and Rock River Valley Blood Center.

“Through our partnership with Facebook, individuals will be able to conveniently find and connect with their local blood center to help meet the ongoing need for a diverse pool of blood donors in the US and share their experiences and the importance of blood donations,” Kate Fry, chief executive officer at America’s Blood Centers, said.

“By encouraging donations as a way of life, each of us can assure that the more than 30,000 pints of blood used daily throughout the country is available.”

TOPICS: Blood Donations, Facebook, Social Media, technology
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