November is Eye Donation Month, and The Gifted Life Podcast is excited to share a special story to celebrate the gift of sight. If you are not a registered organ, eye and tissue donor, register today at registerme.org
Scroll down to read a guest blog from LSU Manship School of Communications student, Peyton Short.
I remember having a conversation with my mother when I was younger about her wishes when she dies, specifically concerning her body. While she didn't mention organ donation in particular during that conversation; later, she did encourage my siblings and I to be organ donors when it was time to get our driver's licenses. Through my time working with Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) and Donate Life Louisiana, my thoughts about organ, eye and tissue donation have radically changed.
My parents taught us the value of service early on. They have encouraged my siblings and I to find a cause we can be passionate about and to volunteer with that organization. Only when you can connect deeply to a cause, can you create positive change, or make a movement happen! My entire sentiment around the topic of donation is one of love and giving.
Only recently have I realized the magnitude of an individual's decision of saying "yes".
In the state of Louisiana, it is completely up to individuals to choose to become an organ donor. Becoming a donor and having that free choice is considered a gift. LOPA’s Core Purpose is Making Life Happen, and it’s a mission is to continuously educate and register Louisiana residents about sharing the gift of life. As of now, roughly 2.5 million people in the state that have said "yes" to becoming a donor. That is only half of the entire state’s population. We can most definitely impact more people, but that comes with replacing negative stereotypes and connotations around organ donation with the statistics and positive stories from both the donor and recipient sides.
The first rule in mass communication is to research everything. I learned that The Gifted Life Podcast is a wonderful resource for all things donation. Episode #96 released in November and is all about Eye Donation. This podcast is right on track for Eye Donation Month, which is the entire month of November. The Eye Bank Association of America along with member eye banks throughout Louisiana and the United States use the month as an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of registering to be a donor, about cornea donation and transplantation, and to acknowledge the important work of eye banks
For those who don’t know me, I am not medically inclined in the slightest. Surprisingly enough, I cannot begin to explain how many weird questions have come to mind regarding the different types of donation, specifically eye donation. I watched a complete corneal transplant surgery on YouTube in order to better understand what occurs. The most interesting fact I’ve learned during this process is: the corneal transplant (cornea of an eye) is not only the oldest transplant performed, but also the most common and successful human transplant performed. The chance of long-term transplant success is higher than 94%, according to the Eye Bank Association of America. In the United States alone, over 60,000 people receive corneal transplants in a year.
I think the most poetic of all donations/transplants are eye donations. This literally gives donors a second chance to see life through someone else.
The Manship school’s public relations curriculum finishes seniors off with a campaign class that is focused on service learning. Student-led teams operate as PR firms, doing work for real clients. Lori Steele with LOPA and The Gifted Life Podcast explains, “These students are tasked with crafting a campaign with specific goals of increasing Louisiana's donor registry & increasing donation awareness on & off campus.”
Not only has this been an opportunity for me to grow as a leader but it helped me to explore my passion for non profit organizations and think about the bigger impact they can have. Since 2012, this LSU/LOPA partnership has seen 1,250 donor registries, 2,200 service hours & 84 students. Dr. Broussard guides her students to not only work to improve the Baton Rouge community but also to have the ability to change the world in our future careers.
Service learning has taught me so much about perception and choosing to see the good in everything. Lori and the whole LOPA team have turned me into an advocate for donation and I hope to continue working/volunteering for years to come.
Listen to The Gifted Life Podcast, episode #96 now using the player below. A new episode releases every other Friday. Subscribe for free on your favorite podcast app using the links at the top of every page.
Written by Peyton Short - LSU Student - Manship School of Mass Communications