By Haydn Elmore | March 27, 2023
True or false: will donating your organs cause you to die?
If you said “true,” then you're part of the 56% of people who may be misinformed on the topic of organ donation. One University at Albany communications class is trying to reduce that percentage while also boosting the number of those willing to be transplant donors.
Great Danes Saves Lives Logo
Photo Credit: Instagram /@greatdanessavelives
The Communication Campaign Practicum class, run by Communications Professor Lin Lin, is preparing a social marketing campaign for its client, the Center for Donation and Transplant. The campaign, called “Great Danes Saves Lives,” includes educational events, discussions about the importance and meaning of organ donations, and dispelling common myths about organ donation and transplants.
“The target audience we’re trying to reach towards are the students at UAlbany,” said Lin. “Since most of the students are often more open-minded and are willing to listen to different opinions about different topics, we want to use that opportunity to join us and sign up to be a donor.”
Lin said many students and older adults wrongly believe that donating an organ can lead to death, or cause the body to not fully function. In addition, many believe that organ transplants are issues only family members can resolve.
“People tend to think about organ donation with death,” said Lin, adding that the strategy of the recruitment class will begin with combatting that belief and finding “a healthy connection between death and organ donation with statistics and educating the community about what organ donor is.”
Demtra Cions, a senior in Lin’s practicum class, said she understands why those misconceptions exist, adding that she thinks “that this class is useful to teach other people how those misconceptions aren’t true and shine a light on the crisis we are having.”
Some students in the class have a personal connection to the subject of organ donation in their families.
“Sometime during high school, my dad was on the organ transplant list, because he was getting a new liver,” said Valentine Jimenez, a senior. “But thankfully, he never had to get a new liver transplant after all.” She added that being an organ donor can save or improve lives.
According to Lin, New York state has fewer registered donors than the national average. Forty percent of New Yorkers are registered as organ donors compared to the national average of 69%. According to the HRSA government website, there are 104,234 people (including men, women, and children) on the national transplant waiting list as of January 2023.
In addition to planning for the event, Lin said Jimeneez and the other students in the recruitment class have already begun spreading the word about its events through social media accounts, including Instagram and Tiktok. They also plan to host campus tabling events where volunteers will share facts about organ donation and provide a QR code for students to register as an organ donor with New York State Donate Life Registry.
Lin emphasizes that the practicum class isn’t geared to do live donations. Their ultimate goal is to increase registration in New York for organ donations like heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
The Communication Campaign Practicum class is currently seeking volunteers to help from March 27 to Apr. 17, with longer hours during the week of April 10 to Apr. 14th. It can even allow volunteers to earn social service credits. They will also attend the University-Wide Showcase Day on April 27 at the campus center.
To stay updated on the Great Danes Saves Lives event, visit the group’s Instagram page for more information to come.