Communication professor Robert Koch’s desire for more SVSU students to give the “Gift of Life” resulted in SVSU coming in third place in a national donor registry campaign.
“In the past 15 years, college students across the state have inspired more than 40,000 people to join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry,” he said.
Earlier this semester, Koch approached Peer Health Educators about the possibility of SVSU joining the Gift of Life College Challenge. The challenge encouraged Michigan campuses to register as many new donors as possible between Jan. 16 and Feb. 20.
“(Koch) left us with some general paperwork, and we did some of our own research and decided it was something we wanted to get involved in,” said Abby Schreiner, PHE’s senior sexual responsibility coordinator.
PHE took on the challenge and aimed to raised awareness about organ donation and to increase the number SVSU students who are registered donors. Schreiner said they relied on table sits and “word of mouth” to accomplish these goals. Koch came into contact with the challenge through his work at regional healthcare facilities and the classes he teaches at SVSU.
“This past decade through my work at Covenant HealthCare and SVSU, I’ve been touched by Gift of Life Michigan in facilitating organ and tissue donation and transplants,” he said.
He said many of his students had family member who would have benefitted from a donor.
“In teaching healthcare ethics, I’ve heard student stories of family members whose lives were saved … through organ donations or lost from not being able to receive a transplant,” he said.
He explained that there is a large gap between the need for organs and available organs. There are as many as 3,000 patients in Michigan alone waiting for organ transplants, he said.
“Data from the United Network for Organ Sharing magnifies those numbers nationally,” Koch said. “The Gift of Life Michigan Challenge provides an opportunity to give school rivalries a new purpose by saving and healing lives.”
SVSU placed third, behind Wayne State University and Mott Community College, out of 21 registered Michigan colleges and universities.
A total of 59 SVSU students joined the donor registry, Schreiner said.
“Overall, I think this challenge was a great learning experience for the SVSU campus,” she said.
Though SVSU did not register the most donors, she said PHE was able to shine some light on organ donation.
“A lot of people were stopping by, asking us questions about organ donation and debunking some of the myths organ donation has,” Schreiner said. “While we may not have won, we feel very accomplished that we were able to register almost 60 people. We are very proud of our SVSU family.”