I heart New York

Posted on January 3, 2013 at 5:10 am

We are big fans of organ donation. It’s painless (in many cases), saves lives, and surely offers some kind of good karma if you believe in that kind of thing.

But despite all that, the stats we’ve seen suggest that fewer than half of American adults are registered organ donors.

There are some great campaigns out there aimed at increasing this rate. Some pull at the heartstrings by featuring people who are desperate for a transplant, some rely on statistics, and some – like this billboard recently spotted in a NYC subway station – offer riders a guilt trip with their train fare.

It’s hard to argue with the fact that waiting for a transplant can literally be a killer, and that any one of us generally healthy folks waiting on the platform has a chance to save someone’s life. But we have to wonder, as we stifle our gag reflex, is this morbid message really the most effective way to convince someone to register as an organ donor?

We like how this message pokes fun at New Yorkers’ reputation for being antsy. What if we took that in a lighter direction by acknowledging their generosity when it comes to, say, flipping off strangers?

Or maybe tap the city’s red-velvet rope vibe by suggesting that every one of us can be a celebrity of sorts, long remembered for our good deeds?

Of course, for a real game-changing approach, there’s always the case study in behavior economics showing that in countries where the organ donor form at the DMV is positioned as an “opt-out” (as opposed to the “opt-in” approach used in the US), the vast majority of people simply accept the default and end up becoming donors.

Until we have such systematic change in place, though, we applaud the work of organizations like the New York Organ Donor Network for advancing the conversation around organ donation, and for making it easier for people to register and subsequently save lives.

We just wish it wouldn’t take images of toe tags to inspire action.

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