Students stood hand-in-hand, creating a living green ribbon in the MLK Plaza on Wednesday in an attempt to raise awareness for organ donation.
Get Carded, a program run by USF students through Volunteer USF, hosted the event to promote the importance of organ and tissue donation, said Walter Joseph, graduate assistant for Civic Engagement and Volunteerism on campus.
“The goal of the program is essentially encouraging college students to become organ donors,” he said.
The event, in its fifth year, also gave students an opportunity to sign donor cards. In 2007, about 800 students became organ donors collectively as a result of peer-to-peer meetings and events held by the group.
Joseph said such events are important because it is imperative to dispel misconceptions that give students second thoughts about becoming organ donors, such as doctors and paramedics do not work as hard to save injured individuals if he or she is a donor.
Freshman Stephanie Dye and her father spoke at the event because they are both organ recipients.
“My dad had a heart transplant. Raising awareness is important to us because it’s been part of our family for four years,” Dye said.
Stephanie had a heart transplant in September. She and her father had the same condition – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which the heart muscle thickens, making it harder for the heart to work. Stephanie waited approximately one week for the transplant. Get Carded hopes to lessen the waiting time for someone who needs a transplant.
Jenna Berger, co-director of Get Carded, said she hopes that by spreading the word to faculty, staff and students, the number of people waiting for transplants will lessen.
“Something as simple as getting carded can potentially save anyone,” freshman Kaitlin Tingley said. “It’s just really cool seeing how many people want to save others.”
Sophomore Camille Bailey agreed it is important to raise awareness among students.
“I’ve heard about Get Carded. It’s good to raise awareness for something like organ donation. It’s kind of scary to think about death now, but you should,” she said.
Dye encourages students to become donors so they can help others like she was helped.
“The more organ donors we have, the more lives we can save,” she said.