SUNY held a campaign in April in honor of National Donate Life Month. Its goal was to raise awareness for organ donation, despite a lack of campus-wide awareness.
“In New York state alone, the waiting list grows every two-and-a-half hours,” according to the SUNY website. “(More than) 10,000 New Yorkers are currently waiting for an organ transplant, and every 15 hours someone dies waiting for an organ transplant in our state.”
Anyone can become an organ donor when they receive a New York state driver’s license or state identification. Students who are registered to vote can also check the box on the application to become an organ donor when they register to vote. Organ donors must be 18 or older. Students can also register online at liveonny.org.
PSUC Director of the Student Health and Counseling Center Kathleen Camelo said she was aware of organ donation but not SUNY’s campaign. She also said the college has not promoted the campaign as well as they could have.
Camelo said, however, students can help save lives in other ways besides organ donation. She said students can help an intoxicated friend, encourage a friend to stop smoking or learn CPR to help others.
Camelo said organ donation is a difficult thing for people to discuss sometimes because students can feel uncomfortable, and that could be why it isn’t talked about much on campus.
“Probably the best way to promote it (organ donation) is to have an advocate: someone (who is) impassioned by it to take it on as a cause,” she said.
Camelo also said most people don’t become involved in a health-related cause until a family member or friend falls ill.
“I think they could put it on MyPlattsburgh as a big advertisement because students use it quite frequently — or even if they send out a mass email or Facebook invite,” PSUC communication studies major Gabriella Cortese said. “Flyers would work too.”
Cortese and PSUC early childhood and special education major Kenzie Hay said they know about organ donation, and plan to sign up to become an organ donor to help save lives.
“I want to become an organ donor,” Cortese said. “I was actually planning on doing that when I fill out the paper to get my new ID. I tried to do it when I was 16, but I couldn’t do it then.”
Cortese said she knows people who have been involved in the donation process, and she even had a friend with cancer who received an organ donation. Despite her connection to the process, she had yet to hear about SUNY’s Donate Life Month campaign.
Along with National Donate Life month, there are other causes students feel also deserve attention and awareness on PSUC’s campus that are not getting enough recognition.
Hay said special needs organizations and their activities, such as Plattsburgh’s annual Alzheimer’s walk, could also use more publicity.
“If your life is ending and you have no use for your organs anymore, maybe you can help someone else if your organs are still viable,” Camelo said. “Organ donation is important because it can save a life.”
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