By Peyton Short, Movement Maker Tribe Editorial Team

Be passionate

I remember having a conversation with my mother when I was younger about her specific wishes when she dies, specifically concerning her body. While she didn’t mention organ donation in particular during that conversation; later, she did encourage my siblings and me to be organ donors when it was time to get our driver’s licenses. Through my time working with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) and Donate Life Louisiana, my thoughts about organ, eye, and tissue donation have radically changed.

My parents taught us the value of service early on by encouraging us to find a cause we can be passionate about and to volunteer with them. Only when you can connect deeply to a cause, can you create positive change, or make a movement happen! My entire sentiment on this topic is one of love and giving. I told my family the other day that when my time on Earth comes to an end, I hope that I go in a way so that I can be useful to others first.

Volunteers for LOPA sign up donors

Movements Happen in Moments

This whole campaign has taught me so much about perception and choosing to see the good in everything. it only takes one moment to say “yes” to organ, eye and tissue donation. The OMV asks you each time you have to renew your license and go in person to do so. So next time you are there, take a moment and truly think about what they are asking you. They are asking you to say yes to life after death.

Even if your license isn’t about to expire, take a moment right now and think about your family and friends. Do you know if they are on the registry? Do you know if they have needed a transplant surgery before or may need one in the future? Life is unpredictable so even if you don’t want to register, talk to a family member or close friend to see what their opinion is towards organ donation.

Saying “yes”

Only recently have I fully realized the magnitude of an individual’s decision of saying “yes”. In the state of Louisiana, it is completely up to individuals to choose to become an organ donor. Becoming a donor and having that free choice is considered a gift in our home state. LOPA’s mission is to continuously educate and register residents about sharing the gift of life. As of now, roughly 2.5 million people in the state that have said “yes” to becoming a donor. That is only half of the entire state’s population. We can most definitely impact more people, but that comes with replacing negative stereotypes and connotations around organ donation with the statistics and positive stories from both the donor and recipient sides.

Making informed decisions

The first rule in communication is to research everything you write. This is post actually falls on the heels of National Eye Donation Month, which is the entire month of November, and for the past month, I’ve been researching organ donation. Here are some things I’ve learned during this time—

  • About 120,000 people in the United States are waiting on a lifesaving organ transplant. An average of twenty-two people die every day waiting on a transplant.
  • After an extensive evaluation at the transplant center, patients are placed on the list for transplantation. When an organ becomes available, the organs are placed based on the urgency of need. This means that the very sickest are at the top of the list. They take into account the amount of time the patient has been waiting. In order to be a match, the blood types must be compatible and the size, the height and weight of the organ must be compatible with that of the recipient. There is no substitute for human tissue.
  • The corneal transplant* (cornea of an eye) is not only the oldest transplant performed but also the most common and successful human transplant performed. The chance of long-term transplant success is higher than 94%, according to the Eye Bank Association of America. In the United States alone, over 60,000 people receive corneal transplants in a year.

Service learning

I am a soon to be graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University which is in Baton Rouge. The Manship school’s public relations curriculum finishes seniors off with a campaign class that is focused on service learning. Student-led teams operate as PR firms, doing work for real clients. Manship instructors guide their students to not only work to improve the Baton Rouge community but also to have the ability to change the world in their future careers. 

Not only has my time at LOPA been an opportunity for me to grow as a leader but it helped me to explore my passion for non-profits and think about the bigger impact they can have. During this time I’ve worked with Lori Steele at LOPA who has allowed me to craft a public relations campaign for her non-profit. “These students are tasked with crafting a campaign with specific goals of increasing Louisiana’s donor registry & increasing donation awareness on & off campus,” Lori explained. Since 2012, this partnership has seen 1,250 donor registries, 2,200 service hours & 84 students.

This partnership is powerful: #Firestarters and #MovementMakers coming together to benefit others and remember life.

*If you are like me and are super curious as to what actually occurs in a corneal transplant surgery, here is a cool video of a surgery I found!

**All of my information came directly from the Eye Bank Association of America, Southern Eye Bank, Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency and Donate Life Louisiana. All of these are amazing sources of accurate information to learn more about the options and opportunities to get involved

About the Author: Peyton Short is a member of the #MovementMakerTribe editorial team and is a student at Louisiana State University who is set to graduate on in December 2018. Peyton hopes to move to Austin and work in the public relations field. During her time at LSU she has been a proud member of Student Government, PRSSA, ImPRint, and Chi Omega.