Fifteen people die in the United States every day because the organ they need is not available, according to the LifeLink Foundation. But the foundation, a non-profit organization that facilitates the donation of organs and tissues for patients, is trying to get student organizations involved to prevent shortages.
“Students can help by receiving factual information about organ transplants and making a decision,” said Ruth Bell, vice-president of public relations for LifeLink in Tampa.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, more than 80,000 people in the United States are waiting for organ transplants. However, last year, only 24,076 transplants took place.
The Tampa branch of LifeLink has facilitated a total of 361 transplants in the past year. In Florida, approximately 3,000 people are currently awaiting organ transplants.
USF’s Student Government partnered with the LifeLink Foundation three years ago in an awareness campaign called Get Carded. The campaign is a year-long awareness program and will run until spring.
“The primary goal of Get Carded is to educate students about organ donation and to encourage them to be donors,” said Vince Faridai, director of health and human services for Student Government.
USF’s College of Medicine has also been partnered with the LifeLink foundation since 1973. Transplants are performed at Tampa General Hospital, which is USF’s main training hospital.
Individuals can register as organ donors by filling out organ donor cards or by having their preference marked on their driver’s licenses. Also, when students renew their licenses they can have their names put on the statewide organ and tissue donations registry. But before registering, Bell said students should make others aware of their decision.
“The most important thing someone can do is tell their families their decision,” Bell said. “In the event an individual has the potential to become an organ donor, their families will be consulted and will decide.”
Bell also said that it’s easier for a family to make that decision if they know about the family member’s decision beforehand.
Alaina Caridi, a psychology major, said she became an organ donor to help save lives.
“Hopefully they can use my organs to help others,” Caridi said.
According to the LifeLink Web site, one person’s donations could help 60 people. Still, some people are reluctant to donate organs.
LifeLink’s Web site clarifies false information that some people believe in regards to organ donation, for instance organ donation being used as an experimental practice or expenses families may receive. Organ transplants are performed without any cost to the donors family, according to the site.
For more information about organ donations, students can go to www.lifelink-found.org or to get details on upcoming Get Carded events, students can call Vince Faridani at 813-974-5735.