The organ donor iphone app is here – and it's free

A few weeks ago Richard Thaler wrote this in his Economic View column about organ donation:

The key, however, is to make signup easy, and requiring people to make a choice is just one way to accomplish it. The private sector could help create other simple methods. Here is a challenge to Mr. (Steve) Jobs: Why not create a Web site — and a free app for the iPhone — that lets people sign up as organ donors in their home states?

Steve Jobs didn’t meet Thaler’s challenge, but Raymond Cheung of Serenity Integration did. “Basically, I was inspired after reading Dr. Thaler’s column,” he tells the Nudge blog. So he directed his team of developers to create an iPhone app called Donate Lives that lets users identify where they live, and then takes them directly to the state web site where they can sign-up to become an organ donor

The app was pretty simple to make, Cheung says. It took a couple days to build. Getting the free app approved on iTunes took a couple weeks. It’s available for download now, so head over to iTunes if you own an iPhone. “Even if a small fraction of those download the app and register, I’d consider it successful especially if it leads to even one more life saved,” says Cheung.


  • Kirk Hartley

    Great idea. May I please urge you to make the same challenge for bone marronw donations ? Sadly, there is still an urgent need for people with various cancers. Indeed, the cancer rate is skyrocketing.

    For marrow donations, the situation is in some ways worse than it was 20 years ago because of modern diversity. That is, marriages across races and typical genotypes are resulting in children for whom it is very diffiult to find a genetic match.

    The date needed for the app should be easier because bone marrow is not handled through states and instead there is a national group that registers donors

    BTW, you might do the same thing for blood donations !

    BTW # 2, that makes me wonder – why don’t I see soemtimes see public service adds on web browsers instead of ads ? How about some nudging to the browser folks at Apple, Google, Mozilla and Msoft ?

    Thank you for nudging !!!

  • Scott Meis

    Thanks for posting about this. I manage campaign outreach for Donate Life Illinois and have given the folks at Donate Life America ( a head up on this app. Hopefully Serenity and Donate Life America can connect to really beef up the app to keep people engaged with a tell-a-friend tool, strong video content, links to donation education resources, etc.


  • Julia Rivera

    This is great information. I am the Director of Communication at the New York Organ Donor Network and currently working to maximize new media opportunities to make organ, eye and tissue donation a fundamental societal value with universal acceptance. Thank you for advancing this important conversation!

  • Raymond

    Hi everybody,

    Thanks for the great comments. I just wanted to give everyone the link to download the free app:

  • Rich Ostry

    Why do you need an app just to sign up to be an organ donor? All you have to do is go to the web site and fill out the form. Somethings just don’t need to be duplicated.

    • Rich Ostry

      And just to add to my original post, I donated a kidney to my wife 12 years ago.

  • Charles

    Im based in Australia and read about Steve Jobs being greatful for his new liver.

    Instantly, i emailed Apple suggesting that if he really wants to give back to society then an iphone app was simple but would have great impact. Considering the costs of keeping someone on dialisis.

    No response from apple.

    Im glad this has been done, do you know if this works in the UK and Australia?

    Great minds think alike.