All it takes is one person willing to become an organ, eye and tissue donor to save the lives of eight people and enhance the lives of at least 50 people.
Over the next few weeks, students at The University of Southern Mississippi will get the chance to become one of these lifesavers as part of Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency’s Donor Challenge 2013.
The College of Health Ambassadors participated in the challenge last year and are spearheading it again this year. Their goal is to spread the word about organ, eye and tissue donation and get students and Hattiesburg community members registered as donors.
Alanna Buckley, a senior speech pathology major and president of the College of Health Ambassadors, has been an organ and issue donor for four years and is participating in the event for a second year.
“…when they asked if we’d do it again this year, I was really excited about it,” Buckley said. “I think it’s a really great cause.”
In the 2012 inaugural challenge, Southern Miss went up against Ole Miss to see who could register the most donors. According to MORA, 68 percent of the 300 donors who registered were from USM.
Southern Miss will battle Ole Miss to register the most donors and get bragging rights for a second year.
“What we wanted to do was to get on college campuses to promote awareness about donation and to create a little football challenge atmosphere with it,” said Chuck Hinson, community outreach manager for MORA. “[Southern Miss] did an outstanding job last year. They kind of took this on as their own and won the challenge.”
According to Buckley, there’s a lot of misunderstanding about organ, eye and tissue donation.
“It’s such a great way to give back, but you don’t have to do anything right now,” she said. “It’s completely a post-mortem thing, but it also can be an anonymous thing.”
“It’s just making a promise that however many years down the road, that you’ve made the commitment to save someone’s life,” she added.
Once potential donors sign up, they will receive an email confirmation and a donor card in the mail. Their name will go on the Miss. donor registry and they can also elect to have a small heart placed on their driver’s license when they renew it.
Students and community members can register to be a donor in three ways: at one of the COH tabling events, on MORA’s website or at their local department of motor vehicles. Students who have previously registered to be an organ donor can’t participate, but are encouraged to spread the word.
“Also, if someone from out of state is in Mississippi, they can still register with MORA,” Buckley said. “They try to give to Mississippians in need first, though [they] can go anywhere in the country.”
Hinson hopes to see donor registration numbers increase this time around.
“There’s over 119,000 Americans right now in need of a transplant,” Hinson said. “Every 10 minutes, a name is added to the list.”
“It’s something that allows people to see children get married, to see grandchildren born, to see things in life that they may never see,” he added.
For more information about the challenge or to register for organ, eye and tissue donation, visit www.MSORA.org/DonorChallenge.