Save a Life: National Organ Donor Day

Sofia Strohmeier, Copy Editor

Feb. 14 has a special mark on most calendars in honor of Valentine’s Day; however, the day also represents National Organ Donor Day. While one spreads love on the special day, that devotion can carry on into registering as a donor and making a step in changing somebody’s life.

National Organ Donor Day’s origin can be attributed to the Saturn Corporation and the United Auto Workers, with support from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It was held for the first time in 1998, hoping to dedicate a day for spreading awareness and education on organ donation. Organ donation ensures that people on a transplant list can obtain new healthy organs: heart, kidney, eyes, lungs, liver, intestines, pancreas, skin and blood among other parts excluding the brain. In the United States, 170 million people are registered as donors as of 2022. That same year, 42,887 life-changing organ transplants were performed, which according to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing, defined a new annual record. 

Organ donor registration has no age limit, yet, for younger people, organ donation holds additional importance. Younger organs prove more successful than older organs in terms of responses from the recipient, which determines the importance of spreading awareness about the topic among high school students. 

“Almost everything can be used for other people. So students can help other people that really need organs,and you are young, you are healthy, you are strong and it is helping the community. It is helping others,” Miami Palmetto Senior High Health Science teacher and sponsor of Student Organ Donation Advocates Joyce Brislawn said. 

At MPSH, SODA was created to spread awareness and teach students about the importance of registering as an organ donor. SODA is a nationwide nonprofit that seeks to educate students on their role in organ donation advocacy and life-changing acts. Aryana Motlagh, the founder of SODA at MPSH, resonated with the cause and wanted to instill inspiration in others to consider organ donor registration.

“There were not any sort of chapters at the time when I started getting into it in South Florida, so I felt like, within high school specifically, there was not much discussion about it,” Motlagh said. “I think [it is] word of mouth a lot. If you are registered as an organ donor, you might talk to your friends or your family about it and spread the word about why it is important. And the more people obviously, the more lives we can save because one person can save up to eight lives.”

To commemorate the day, SODA will host an event during both lunches on Feb. 14 to shed light on organ donation and reach more audiences to support the cause.

“I think for me, it is a day where you can turn it into activities for students and make it an engaging environment for people to learn about organ donation. For example, next Tuesday for National Organ Donor Day, we will have a table outside of [room] 1135, and we are going to be giving out donuts to students who have registered as organ donors or want to register right on the spot. So just an engaging way to start the conversation about organ donation,” Motlagh said.

Organ donation is a large part of Brislawn’s medical-focused courses. To educate students on the positive impact one can have as organ donors, Brislawn has incorporated annual speakers into spreading the word on the topic.

“I have speakers come every year and they talk about organ donors. Sometimes they bring people that actually are organ donation recipients, and it is very impactful when people hear their stories about how they are just about all out of hope and an organ came through. It is very powerful,” Brislawn said.

The wait for many to receive transplants can be crucial. Unfortunately, 17 people die each day waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, and over 100,000 are waiting for an organ to have a second opportunity to live. Registering as a donor takes just a couple of simple steps; click here to register and make an impactful difference in somebody’s life.