Even though I’ve been a volunteer for Lifeline of Ohio since shortly after my transplant,two Saturdays ago was the first time I’d ever used my volunteer training to sign up donors! I’ve given speeches to various groups (including Girl Scouts!) and helped with some events, but I’ve never done one of our most vital activities. I was glad to change this at the local Health and Fitness Expo, held at the convention center.
One organ donor can save up to 8 lives, and improve up to 50, through organ and tissue donation. That’s a HUGE number of people! Think about all those people whose lives are changed for the better because of one person’s decision to be an organ donor.
The job is pretty simple. Lifeline brings a whole bunch of our brochures, which are organ donation sign-up sheets, and also give some facts about organ donation. Myself, and other volunteers, asked people who walked by our booth if they were organ donors. If they were, and showed us the heart on their driver’s license (indicating they were, indeed, a donor), they got a green “donate life” bracelet (similar to the Livestrong bracelets). If, however, they were NOT a donor, and signed up, they got a green Donate Life scrunch sack. We also rang our Donate Life bells to announce to the tables around us that we had signed up another donor. (KIds really liked the bells.)
We signed up at least 100 people on Saturday–and it was a two day event! To help attract people, we also had candy, the chance to win tickets to the Crew, our local MLS team, as well as cornhole (a HUGE thing in Ohio) and a picture-taking booth, where you could stick your head on the body of a superhero, because donors are HEROES!
Everyone I asked was already a donor, but right before my shift ended, I got a new donor signed up! I was really excited about this. He was a college kid with his girlfriend (who was a donor), and I was so happy to get him signed up.
When you volunteer at at Lifeline event, people usually ask what your “connection to donation” is–are you a donor, a donor family member, a recipient, or a “supporter of the cause”? After awhile you get to know who’s what among the frequent donors, but I always love sharing my story with staffers, volunteers, and the people at health fairs and in talks.
Donor families are always great to see at these events. They’re the ones who lost a loved one, but through that loved one’s choice, they saved others and saved other families from the heartbreak they experienced. It’s always a joy to talk to them. One particular family at this event had a woman, her daughter, and the granddaughter–three generations of volunteers!–who were there celebrating the life of their family member, who was a donor. (The granddaughter, who’s seven, became our Cornhole Proprietress, giving out prices and doling out the beanbags.) We also have quilts honoring our donors; each family can contribute a square celebrating their loved one’s life, and the squares are always beautiful and touching. These quilts are a huge draw when we display them, as we did at the health festival.
It was a great opportunity to meet new people, lobby for our cause, and get people to sign up! If you are not an organ donor, here are some facts for you to consider:
- There is no cost for organ donation.
- The body isn’t disfigured; you can still have an open casket funeral service.
- 18 people die everyday waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S.
- The waiting list is now (as of July 2012): 114,712 people.
- ANYONE can donate, no matter what your age or health history!
- All major religious support organ donation as an act of altruism.
- For more facts and FAQs (see that? Ha!), go here.
If you are an organ donor, THANK YOU! All of us thank you for your decision to donate life. My donor was 51 years old, from Minnesota. I never met her, and I’ve never met her family. But she saved my life.