Even after death, the body and soul of yourself and loved ones can live on through the bodies of others, Cass Manion said.
The Manion Family, founders of the Elizabeth Callaghan and Mary E. Manion Fund at Rowan, were in attendance yesterday for the family’s second Organ Donor Day appearance at Rowan’s Chamberlain Student Center.
“The first time I came here, I was too emotional to say anything,” said Cass Manion. “But after seeing all the letters of miracles from organ donor recipients, I realized the power [donors] have.”
The Manions have experience with organ donations. While some donors choose to donate specific organs, the Manion’s daughter, Mary, chose to donate all the organs in her body when she was diagnosed with terminal liver failure several years ago. Since her death, more than 400 people have benefited from her donations.
“The hardest thing for a parent is to have the body of their child donated, but after my daughter and I talked about it before she died, I realized that her death could be the beginnings of others,” Cass Manion said.
Organ Donor Day, an event organized by PRaction, a student public relations firm within the Public Relations Students Society of America, set out to create opportunities for the new beginnings like the Manions have witnessed. On the Student Center Back Patio, Organ Donor Day, in association with the Gift of Life House, a Philadelphia facility that provides hospitality to organ transplant patients and families, was able to add 57 people to the organ donor list, Assistant Director of Promotions Taylor Feldschneider said.
“We set out to get more signatures than we had last year, which was 52,” Feldschneider said. “Any amount of signatures we can get is a success though.”
The actual client that PRaction works with is Organ Donor Awareness Day. However, PRaction decided to put its own take on it because organ donation is an issue close to all of the members.
“The founder of PRaction actually needed an organ transplant, so the organization held Organ Donor Day in 1997 to generate awareness and support,” Feldschnieder said.
PRaction celebrated the 21st anniversary of Organ Donor Day with “Retro-Donor Day,” sporting T-shirts reading, “saved by the donor.”
“We’re trying to bring the ’90s back,” Feldschnieder said.
Several on-campus organizations, including the Rowan Arts Collective, Rowan Pre-Health Society, Alpha Sigma Alpha and Alpha Epsilon Phi, showed their support by setting up tables and putting together giveaway baskets, said Director of Organ Donor Day Joe Lehocky, a senior public relations major.
Sara Holroyd, a junior elementary education major, is thankful for events like these.
“I feel like a lot of people don’t know about the organ donation process and how it affects people,” Holroyd said. “I like events like these that raise awareness.”
Raising awareness is something that Cass Manion has advocated ever since receiving letters from individuals who were benefitting from her daughter’s organs.
“A organ transplant can give someone a second chance,” Cass Manion said. “People should have knowledge about what events like these are about — your life can improve someone else’s with gratitude.”
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