Patients waiting for an organ donor always have their lives on the line.
“There are over 100,000 in the U.S. alone waiting for an organ donation – there are 3,800 in Florida alone,” said Tami Mendelson, a junior majoring in psychology and nursing. “Eighteen people die a day waiting for organ donations.”
Mendelson is the coordinator for an event Thursday hosted by Get Carded, a group working to register more people as organ donors.
“If everyone in the U.S. was an organ donor, there would be no risk,” Mendelson said.
The Living Green Ribbon event is Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside the Marshall Student Center. There will be live music, free food and prize giveaways.
Following the event, participants will receive a green t-shirt and stand with others in the form of a ribbon for a photo, Mendelson said.
“It’s an annual event Get Carded puts on that helps spread awareness about organ donation and, (at the event), we sign people up to become organ donors on the online registry,” she said.
Get Carded is an organization sponsored by Donate Life Florida. It has campus groups at other universities across the state this month to promote the importance of becoming an organ donor.
Stephanie Dye, a sophomore majoring in sign language and interpretation, received a heart transplant two and a half years ago, thanks to an organ donor.
“My dad had one five years ago, so we kind of got to see the process before,” she said. “I only waited a week because I was small and have a very common blood type. So, I was on the top of the transplant list.”
Dye said she has mixed emotions because, though she is alive today, it came with a price: someone else lost a loved one.
Dye and her father are grateful for the gifts they were given.
Mendelson said one of the main objectives is “to address any misconceptions people might have about donating organs.”
“People think that a doctor is going to let you die for your organs, or if you are in a car accident they won’t try to revive you,” she said. “Those are completely false. Organ donation is not taken into consideration until brain death has been declared. After that, the donor’s body is treated with utmost respect.”
Their personal goal is to get 100 people to sign up to become organ donors at the event.
“Theoretically, it’s a solvable problem,” Mendelson said. “People just need to know the facts, and if they knew the facts, they wouldn’t have a reason not to be a donor.”
The online registry allows people to sign up to be an organ donor at DonateLifeFlorida.org.
USF is in a friendly competition with other state schools like the University of Florida and Florida State University to see how many students use the site to register as organ donors.
“There is a button that you select where you heard about the registry. You select college campaign and then scroll down to USF and we get a vote,” Mendelson said. “We are winning – last I checked.”
Ira Sukrungruang, an assistant professor for the last two years in the English department at USF, is already an organ donor.
“I became an organ donor because I feel like it’s a way for me to give back to humanity,” he said. “If someone needs something, I like to think that I could provide them with something for their survival.”