Volunteers at Organ Donor Day wore capes to represent the 82 “superheroes” who registered for organ donation at Rowan University.
Students, faculty and staff were given the chance to register to be an organ donor in the Chamberlain Student Center Pit on Thursday, where the Gift of Life Donor Program held its 24th annual Organ Donor Day. The Gift of Life, in partnership with Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), registered people to United Network for Organ Sharing and New Jersey Sharing Network throughout the day, ending with a total of 82 registrants.
“I think the most important part, and we reflect it in our theme, is everyday people can be heroes,” said Katarina DeFelice, president and liaison to Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
The goal of Organ Donor Day was to raise awareness of organ donation and how many people it can help, according to DeFelice. One organ donor can save up to eight lives, and tissue donors can improve or save more than 75 lives, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Donate Life.
Olivia Micale, 21, is a public relations major at Rowan who has been affected by the organ-donation process.
Micale’s mom, Kim, received a double transplant of the kidneys and pancreas at the age of 46. Kim was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 18 months old, and she needed an insulin pump until the pancreas transplant.
“We were always on edge. Diabetes makes you on edge, usually,” Micale said. “With my mom, I could tell from a facial expression if she was having low sugar, high sugar.”
Kim was put on two waiting lists for an organ donor and waited two years until a donor was found. During those two years, Kim had to use dialysis two to three times a week. The process took up a lot of her time, so she ended up having stents put in her chest and stomach to do the process at home while she slept.
Micale said waiting two years was a good transition time that helped the family to appreciate the process. There were times Micale felt scared that she would lose her mom and would pray, something she never used to do.
“If we had gone to the hospital, gotten a donation right away, I feel like it would’ve been a lot different,” Micale said. “You need the struggle. You need to see the struggle to feel better about the outcome. We know how hard it is. It made it more special.”
Micale was willing to give her kidney to her mom at the age of 15. If people have the opportunity, they should sign up to save lives, Micale said.
Each year, the waiting list grows more rapidly than the number of registered organ donors, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Rowan has a large and diverse audience, so it’s easier to reach students and educate them about organ donation, according to Micale.
“Not only are you saving the person,” Micale said. “You’re saving everyone who’s important to them.”
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