By Mike Montgomery
Transplanting organs is a medical miracle. Finding willing donors, and connecting them to the patients who need organs, can sometimes be an even bigger miracle. Only 52% of Americans are registered as organ donors, according to nonprofit registry Donate Life America.
In early July, Apple AAPL -0.37% took a step toward getting more people enrolled when it announced that iPhone users will be able to register as an organ, eye or tissue donor using iOS 10’s integrated Health app. In conjunction with Donate Life America, Apple will share this information with the national registry.
This isn’t the first time Apple has allowed users to list themselves as organ donors; the iOS 8 release in 2014 featured a way for donors to list their status, as they do on driver’s licenses. What’s new is the ability to register and the routing of that information into the donor database, where doctors can see it. With 100 million iPhone users worldwide, that could make a big difference in clearing organ-donation waitlists.
“Apple’s uniquely positioned here,” because of the iPhone’s massive user base, says Iltifat Husain, assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of mobile app curriculum at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Dr. Husain, who runs the site iMedicalApps.com, says he’s surprised Google GOOGL +0.36% hasn’t offered the same functionality to Android users. From a public health perspective, he says, it makes the most sense for the largest mobile platforms to collect information about organ donors’ wishes within the operating system they already use, without having to download a third-party app.
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