Q&A with Andi Amburgey, External Education Specialist
Student Organ Donation Advocates (SODA) partners with Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) nationwide to provide student leaders with resources to start and lead organ donation chapters on their high school and college campuses. We are excited to feature Andi Amburgey, External Education Specialist at Indiana Donor Network, for SODA’s OPO spotlight. In her role, Andi supports Donate Life Indiana’s student outreach and was pivotal in starting SODA at Purdue University, Indiana Wesleyan University, and Indiana University.
What is most rewarding about working at an OPO/Donate Life Indiana?
Our work for Indiana Donor Network and Donate Life Indiana is about teaching people how they can help others by registering as an organ, tissue and cornea donor. It is rewarding to be involved in a cause that provides hope and healing for the families of our donor heroes as well as for organ, eye and tissue graft recipients. Ultimately, the most rewarding part of our work is meeting donor families and hearing them proudly share how their loved ones helped save and heal lives.
Why is it important for students to be educated about organ donation?
It is highly important to educate students about organ, eye and tissue donation. In Indiana, the students have an opportunity to register to be a donor when they visit the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) for either their learner’s permit and/or their driver’s license. We want the students to discuss this heroic opportunity with their parents beforehand so they will be prepared to answer that question when the time arrives. Our hope is that students will also educate their other family members,
friends and people in their community about the importance of organ donation and transplantation. The trickle effect of this education could help our message to grow exponentially and help dramatically to save more lives through donation and transplantation.
Interested in registering as an organ donor? You can sign up at your DMV or register online at registerme.org/sodanational.
How did your OPO/Donate Life Indiana reach out to students?
Our first strategy to discuss starting a SODA chapter was to share the message with schools where we were already engaged in classroom presentations and other youth events. We added a SODA slide to our youth presentation slideshow deck to promote this program with teachers and students across Indiana. We have shared posts about SODA on our Donate Life Indiana social media accounts and have invited our followers to reach out to us about starting a SODA chapter either at their high school or college. Our volunteer coordinator shares messaging about SODA in newsletter updates for our trained advocates, encouraging them to share the information with family members and friends who might be interested in starting or joining a SODA chapter.
How does your OPO support the three SODA chapters in your service area?
Our plan includes reaching out to those with whom we already have established SODA chapter relationships. We check in during each school quarter to see if they have any needs. We also designate a time when students first return back to school to share an educational webinar and answer any questions for new SODA members. Last, we try to have a staff member or experienced advocate onsite to help SODA members engage with people at their first organ donation registration or education event.
What performance measures do you use to monitor success with school-aged populations?
Currently, we monitor success by tracking the number of students we educate in classrooms or at community events. We feel they are better equipped to make an informed decision when they obtain their learner’s permit and are asked to register their organ donation decision.
We also monitor our success by offering students an informational piece with a quick donation quiz to share with an adult family member when they get home. The adult can then enter their grade on the quiz after snapping a picture of our QR code, or go to the web address provided. This helps us track how many students are going home and educating their family member(s) on this important topic.
If someone is passionate about helping the cause of organ donation, how can they get involved with your OPO/Donate Life Indiana as a volunteer or by starting a SODA chapter?
If you live in Indiana, you can reach out to our advocate coordinator, Kelli Luckett, at email@example.com to learn about becoming a trained volunteer. If they are interested in starting a SODA chapter at their high school or college, they can reach out to me, Andi Amburgey, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Donate Life Indiana and sign up to be an organ donor here.
Interested in starting a SODA chapter? Take SODA’s eligibility quiz here.