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Steve Jobs' liver transplant helped inspire Facebook organ donor program

A liver transplant that extended the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs by years helped to inspire a new organ donor program on the social networking site Facebook.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with ABC News that his friendship with Jobs came to mind as he worked on a plan to increase the number of organ donors. Zuckerberg never specifically spoke with Jobs about a Facebook donation tool before he passed away last October, but Jobs was publicly active in supporting improved organ donor registries.

"That definitely, I think, was something that we all had in mind as we were building this out," Zuckerberg said. "His story is just one of many, of people who both were able to have an organ transplant that made his life longer, and he was extremely thankful for that."

In addition to Jobs, Zuckerberg said conversations with his girlfriend, who is currently in medical school, also helped to inspire the new program. With the new feature, Facebook users can share their organ donor status in an effort to spread awareness, and users can control who can view their organ donor status.

Jobs was a major proponent of a California bill passed in 2010 that made it easier for residents to become an organ donor. It also created the nation's first living registry for kidney transplants.

Because of that bill, California residents must now accept or decline the option of becoming an organ donor when they renew their drivers license. Under the old system, residents had to affix a pink sticker to their license, which Jobs felt hurt the number of donations.

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In 2009, Jobs underwent successful liver transplant surgery at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. He said there weren't enough livers in California, which forced him to look elsewhere.

Following the transplant, Jobs returned to the stage in September of 2009 to introduce new iPods. Before his keynote, Jobs gave a short introduction in which he acknowledged his road to recovery, and said he was gracious for the liver he received from a person in their mid-20s who died in a car crash.

"I am alive because of their generosity," Jobs said at the 2009 event. "I hope we can all be that generous."