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iOrgans: How Your iPhone Could Save Someone's Life

Apple's been on a bit of a health kick ever since introducing its Apple Watch, and this fall's free iOS 10 update will expand the software's focus from always tracking your activity to what happens after you can no longer monitor your vitals. The updated Health app in iOS 10 will let iPhone users sign up to be organ, eye and tissue donors "with just a few taps" on their device.

Image: Shutterstock / Kaspars Grinvalds

Image: Shutterstock / Kaspars Grinvalds

Once you register through your iOS device, your information gets sent to the National Donate Life Registry, which is managed by Donate Life America, Apple's partner in the process. Apple's announcement doesn't explain if and how it will encrypt registrations, but it seems likely the data will be sent using the same protection provided to sensitive medical information sent to doctors via Apple's CareKit apps.

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In the press release announcing the new feature, Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams says that the Health app will provide "education and awareness about organ donation" and that registration will take "just a few seconds and could help save up to eight lives." While most users will have to wait until the fall to register via the Health app, this update is expected to be part of the iOS 10 public beta available later this month.

This partnership looks to fix a current enrollment problem, as Donate Life America chief executive David Fleming told The Associated Press that "Younger Americans are not registering at the same rate as they have in the past." Fleming notes that there are 22 people dying each day while waiting for a transplant, a problem that may be lessened by more convenient registration through iPhones. Donate Life estimates that 120,000 people are waiting for an organ.

It's an issue that hits close to home for Apple. CEO Tim Cook has often talked about the pain he witnessed as his friend and former boss Steve Jobs waited 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.

Henry T. Casey

Henry is an editor writer at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and Apple. Prior to joining Tom's Guide — where he's the self-described Rare Oreo Expert — he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. You can find him at your local pro wrestling events, and looking for the headphone adapter that he unplugged from his iPhone.