Most people aren’t thinking about the national organ shortage while scrolling Tinder for a date. But the U.K.’s National Health Service is hoping that it can leverage the dating app’s appeal with millennials to raise awareness of the health care issue.
Over the next few weeks, Tinder users in the U.K. might see a profile from a celebrity, such as Olympic gold medalist Jade Jones, with a special logo to promote the cause. Those who swipe right will subsequently be asked to register to donate their organs after their death.
In July, the NHS announced that the number of people donating their organs after death fell for the first time in over a decade. Globally, the situation isn’t much better. In the U.S., more than 122,000 people are waiting for an organ donation.
If it succeeds in the coming weeks, Tinder might explore similar partnerships globally. Hermione Way, a spokeswoman for Tinder, said the company is open to working with U.S. health systems.
Tinder’s involvement with the NHS comes just weeks after Tinder CEO Sean Rad’s latest imbroglio. London’s Evening Standard published an interview with Rad in which he bragged that he had slept with “only 20” women and confused the definition of the term sodomy. Tinder’s owner Match Group promptly filed a document with the SEC stressing that the article was not “approved or condoned by, and the content of the article was not reviewed by, the company or any of its affiliates.”
Tinder isn’t the first social media company to garner positive publicity by bolstering organ donations. In the summer of 2013, Facebook opened the floodgates for people to include organ donation status on their profile. A study in the American Journal of Transplantation reported a 21-fold boost to the number of people who registered themselves as organ donors in a single day. At the time, Dr. Andrew M. Cameron, an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, described the results as “dramatic.” Cameron added that the involvement of social media companies could “move the needle on the big picture.”
Donate Life America’s president and CEO David Fleming said he welcomes the involvement of Tinder and other dating apps. Fleming said that in the past, it has been difficult for nonprofit organizations to quantify the impact of social media in boosting registrations. “But now, we’re getting smarter,” he explained. “We know that we need to find ways to take registration opportunities to where people are, including Tinder.”
Other groups that promote organ donation say that it’s been a challenge in the past to educate people about organ donation, particularly when they least expect it. But Organize, another group that promotes organ donation, stresses that there are “appropriate ways” to broach the topic on social media that take a head-on approach to the problem. “Organize runs right at the myths instead of pretending like they don’t exist,” said Jenna Arnold, a spokesperson for the organization.
In recent years, patients and their families have turned to social media in droves to look for potential organ donors. Phoenix resident Kirti Dwivedi found a kidney donor for her mother via a Facebook group. Likewise, Jessica Goeller started a Facebook campaign called “Save Lucas” to find a donor match for her terminally ill son.
This story has been updated.