Written by Zoe Engels, Blog Contributor
Last month, SODA’s chapters held some fun and inventive organ donation advocacy and education events for National Donate Life Month. Observed every April since 2003, National Donate Life Month helps raise awareness about donation, honors donors, and encourages people to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors. The 2022 slogan was “Bee a Donor!” in a nod to bees’ significant role in sustaining life.
SODA at Purdue University
For Donate Life Month, SODA at Purdue University hosted a virtual speaker event during which a transplant recipient’s sister spoke about her experiences living with an organ donation recipient. Students learned what it was like for the speaker to watch her sibling suffer, be admitted to the hospital, get placed on the national transplant waiting list, and then receive a transplant.
Chapter members also held a flier event near Purdue’s bell tower. They handed out educational pamphlets and Donate Life Indiana bracelets to their campus community.
Hope Salzer, President of SODA at Purdue, said she really values Donate Life Month. Hope received a full heart transplant five years ago. She is now a college junior with a Health and Human Sciences Biomedical major and an aspiring Pediatric Cardiac Physician Associate.
“During the month of April, we are really able to see other members of our community—the organ donation and transplantation community—celebrate triumphs!” Hope shared via email. “It is always amazing to learn that a child received their father’s kidney or a mother received a complete stranger’s liver. Donate Life Month just brings out this sense of belonging.”
Hope added that she feels a sense of partnership between herself and her donor, as if they are growing together, navigating life together, and thriving together. She hopes, through organ donation education and advocacy, people can see that the subject is not truly scary and warrants celebration every day.
SODA at the University of Illinois
During Donate Life Month, SODA at the University of Illinois focused on donor registration and increasing awareness about organ donation on campus. At one event, chapter members gave out shirts and donuts to the Illini Union.
For Sami Newman, President of SODA at the University of Illinois, Donate Life Month is a powerful reminder of the impact that organ donation advocacy can have on communities and individuals.
“Donate Life Month is so important because it is a time to recognize all those that have donated and appreciate everyone who has [donated or] received an organ,” Sami, now a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Health Science and applying to med school, said via email.
SODA at the University of Nevada, Reno
SODA at UNR tabled every day for a week during the month of April, handing out gear such as stickers to students and talking to them about organ donation and common misconceptions.
Chapter members hosted a Donuts for Donors event, giving donuts to registered organ donors in their community and to those who registered at the event. Then, adding onto the alliteration and theme, they hosted a Dogs, Donuts and Donate Life event in partnership with UNR campus police, during which there was a Donate Life flag-raising on campus.
In homage to the “Bee a Donor!” theme of this year’s Donate Life Month, chapter members also hosted a bake sale with bee cake-pops.
Megan Perry, President of SODA at UNR, described Donate Life Month as a great opportunity to bring communities together to support and advocate for organ donation. Megan, a neuroscience major on the pre-med track, has seen her own passion for organ donation advocacy increase since joining SODA her freshman year. She and fellow chapter members are currently working on a school-wide educational module that they plan to release in the fall. It will be accessible to all UNR students, providing the opportunity to learn more about the organ donation process and register as donors.
Megan said via Zoom, “I love the light and hope that [SODA] gives in such a time of sadness, so that really motivates me to keep advocating.”
Learn how you can start a SODA chapter or host an event here!