Right now there are 1,644 people in Colorado waiting to receive an organ donation. Of those people, 166 are between the ages of 18 and 34. Because there are not enough organs to go around, many of these peoples’ lives will be shortened.
CSU student members of the Public Relations Student Society of America believe this problem needs to be addressed. They are participating in a National Organ Donor Awareness Competition (NODAC), a competition they won last year.
To promote their cause, they organized a 5K run/walk that took place last Saturday and a pancake breakfast and carnival that will take place in the Plaza today. There is also a concert featuring Tyler Ward, lead singer of Set Forth, in the Ramskeller tonight.
“Especially now that we’re young we don’t expect to be dying any time soon, so there’s a lot of us that don’t feel like we need to be organ donors yet,” said Chelsea Guetz, Publicity Team Lead of NODAC and a senior technical journalism major. “That’s just not the case.”
Jennifer Bailey, director of communication for the Colorado Organ Donor Alliance, said 62 percent of people who renewed their licenses in Colorado in 2005 said “yes” to organ donation. That’s a majority, but still far fewer than the 85 percent that said “yes” to organ donation last year in Wyoming.
“When you say ‘yes’ on your license, or you sign up on the Donor Registry, you are electing to save lives by donating your organs and tissues at the time of your death,” Bailey said.
Talking to family is also an important step in organ donation. Living family members make the ultimate decision of whether or not a person’s organs will be donated after death, even if that person has registered as an organ donor.
Organs that are taken from a donor’s body are the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and small bowel. Recoverable tissues include bones, tendons, corneas, veins, valves and skin. One person’s organs can help save up to 100 lives.
“Donation does not typically delay or interfere with funeral plans,” Bailey said. “An open casket and viewing can still be possible.”
Kidneys are currently the most in-demand organs; 918 of the 1,644 people waiting for organ transplants in Colorado are in need of a kidney.
Meaghan Mulcahy, a freshman business administration major and registered organ donor, can relate closely with the need for a kidney. Her 35-year-old cousin received a transplant in October.
“He’s been a diabetic since he was a teenager,” Mulcahy said. “His kidneys failed about four years ago. He was on dialysis for four years and, this past Halloween, he got a kidney transplant.”
Mulcahy said that during dialysis, her cousin was usually tired and run-down, but has been much better since the transplant.
“We have all this medical technology and we can do things to help people, so we might as well do it,” Mulcahy said.
Despite the fact that many patients are in dire need of organs, some people are just not comfortable with the idea of donating their bodies after they die.
“It freaks me out a little bit,” said Robby Senser, a freshman math major. “The thought that when I die they would cut me open and take my organs is just creepy to me. I just like to think of me as one whole piece. I don’t want to be spread out all over.”
Senser is not currently registered as an organ donor, but does believe his point of view could change over the course of his life, especially if he meets someone who is in need of an organ.
“(If I were waiting for an organ), I would think my viewpoint was selfish,” Senser said.
Kristen Majors can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.