New York Organ Donor's Network

The New York Organ Donor Network made its inaugural visit to St. John’s University on Thursday, March 8, 2012 to introduce an awareness of the need for organ donors.  Spearheaded by Karen Cummins, an alumna, the Office of Community Relations has partnered with NYODN to promote the need for organ donor registration. The idea is to educate the University community about the lives that are lost each year, as there are so few donors available, especially in New York State. According to Joseph Sciame, Vice President for Community Relations, “If people are aware that the lives of as many as eight people may be saved by the generosity of one donor, they may look at the possibility of becoming a registered donor.” In addition, this is a positive way of alleviating the decision to family members so that a person’s wishes are indicated voluntarily on a driver’s license once the commitment is made.  

Professor Jane Paley, of the College of Professional Studies, took on the project with the OCR of advertising the event and encouraged potential donors to register during the initial kickoff information session with a PR writing class of students. The students may not have been enthusiastic about the project initially, and not understanding the ramifications of such an issue. After a NYODN representative, Angela Palmieri, addressed the class and engaged the students in what it means to patients on an organ recipient waiting list, the students were fully committed to educating fellow St. John’s community members of the need for participation in the project.  

Student class members followed the afternoon presentation with an evening session attended by a large group of people invited by the students. Two volunteers of the NYODN, who themselves are kidney recipients, addressed the audience. Many myths were dispelled about transplant donor registration, and both men gave very moving discussions about how their respective transplant saved them from sure and painful death.

The film, “John Q” with Denzel Washington, was chosen to convey the issue more poignantly. “John Quincy Archibald's son Michael collapses while playing baseball as a result of heart failure. John rushes Michael to a hospital emergency room where he is informed that Michael's only hope is a transplant. Unfortunately, John's insurance won't cover his son's transplant. Out of options, John Q. takes the emergency room staff and patients hostage until hospital doctors agree to do the transplant.” (IMDb)

The evening’s success was seen immediately, as approximately a dozen people signed up on site to have them named as potential donors. One student attendee was the recipient of a kidney, and as a young person who is able to attend University and continue to have a full and productive life, it was important to her that people are aware of the fullness of life that can be realized because a stranger was willing to make family and friends aware of a desire to help others.

The NYODN will be on campus again in the coming weeks to register additional individuals and, with the help of the Public Relations Writing Class, the potential number of lives saved will increase. Currently, New York State has only 18% participation and is the 48th state in rank of contributions. Once again St. John’s University student community members are making a positive and monumental contribution to the society in which they live.    

For more information regarding registering for the NYODN, contact Marge Cashin, Office of Community Relations at 718 990-1941 or Newman Hall, Room 155.