Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Talks Organ Donation With Diane Sawyer

By David Cohen 

In the evening portion of Facebook’s program to introduce its organ-donation initiative, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg spoke with Diane Sawyer for an interview that aired on tonight’s installment of ABC News’ “World News with Diane Sawyer.”

Facebook Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg introduced the new tool on ABC News’ “Good Morning America” earlier today, telling “GMA” anchor Robin Roberts that users of the social network in the U.S. and U.K. can indicate that they are organ donors in the health and wellness section on their timelines, and that those users who are not already organ donors but interested in investigating the option will find links to official organ-donation registries.

The interview was taped earlier, but Sawyer provided an update, saying:

Some states are reporting that just today, they have seen the same number of people sign up to become donors as they normally see in one month.

Sandberg told Sawyer:

Our dream is to save lives … If enough people register and enough people start donating, this is a problem that we could dramatically decrease.

The organ-donation crisis is not a medical crisis, it’s a social crisis. It’s a solvable problem with existing technology. These patients don’t have to die if enough people donate.

I think one of the things Facebook does is it gives us real identity. You know, when you see someone on Facebook, you don’t see a name on a list. You see them.

We’re trying to make this the social answer to this problem. Mark and I had been talking about organ donations and things we could do at Facebook.

I’m actually the only non-doctor in my family. My father is a physician, and both my brother and sister are physicians. And the concept of working to save lives was something that I was brought up with. My first job out of college, I worked at the World Bank, and I worked on leprosy and other medical problems in India. And so, you know, for me, it’s always been really important to try to do things that help other people.

The power of Facebook is that people step forward and try to help other people and save lives. If this leads to an outpouring of ideas from all over of other ways people can use Facebook to save lives, that would be terrific.

On a different topic, unemployment and education, Sandberg told Sawyer:

You know, it used to be a generation ago that you could get the best education no matter who you were as an American, comparable or better than anywhere in the world. The data show quite clearly that this is no longer true.

We’re failing our children. And then as they grow up into adults, we fail them again. And this is something I think we all are united, that we absolutely have to fix for the future of our country, for these children who just deserve better and for our economy.

Photo courtesy of Ida Mae Astute/ABC.