Apple wants to encourage millions of iPhone owners to register as organ donors through a software update that will add an easy sign-up button to the health information app that comes installed on every smartphone the company makes.
CEO Tim Cook says he hopes the new software, set for limited release this month, will help ease a critical and longstanding donor shortage. He said the problem hit home when his friend and former boss, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, endured an “excruciating” wait for a liver transplant in 2009.
“Watching and seeing him every day, waiting and not knowing — it stuck with me and left an impression that I’ll never forget,” Cook told The Associated Press. Cook was so concerned that he offered to donate part of his own liver, although Jobs refused.
Jobs died of complications from pancreatic cancer in 2011, two years after receiving a liver transplant in Tennessee that was credited with extending his life. He enrolled in that state’s registry after doctors advised him the lengthy waiting list in California meant he wouldn’t live long enough to get one in his home state.
Now, donation advocates are hoping the new sign-up method will appeal especially to young adults who already use their smartphones for all kinds of online transactions.
This makes a lot more sense that just hoping for the best when people occasionally renew their driver’s licenses which, let’s be honest, is the only time most people think about it. Asking someone in the midst of dealing with the DMV experience to make a positive choice to help other people probably doesn’t help participation.
Beyond the dreary confines of the DMV, people tend not to consider organ donation unless the need to do so hits close to home.
Apple isn’t pioneering anything here but, being Apple, it is getting a lot of media attention for this new option. For once, that’s not a bad thing.