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Club aims to increase UA organ donation

CASSIE TOMLIN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Undeclared sophomore Kira Morfrod, left, and physiology sophomore Dena Khoury fill out applications for the executive board of the UA Students for Organ Donation club last week.
By Jennifer Amsler
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 12, 2004
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A new club wants students to serve the community after they die.

The UA Students for Organ Donation, which will begin official meetings and activities next semester, will aim to educate and register students to donate their organs, as well as debunk common misconceptions about organ donation.

"We can save lives. Our main goal is to get the pool of donors increased on campus," said Amina Shonka, the president and founder of the UAOD.

Shonka, a psychology senior, said she hopes the club will be on the UA Mall every other week to talk to students and creatively show them how much the community is in need of donors.

She said almost 100 people in Arizona ages 18 to 34 are on the waiting list for an organ transplant.

"These people are young and haven't lived their life. We need to reach out to them," Shonka said.

During an introductory meeting last week, Brandon Koolick, a member of UAOD, said people sometimes hesitate to register to be an organ donor because they do not know enough about the issue.

More than 87,000 people in the United States are waiting for transplants, yet only 20,000 to 25,000 are given transplants each year, said Koolick, a general biology sophomore. In Arizona, more than 1,000 people are waiting for some kind of transplant.

"People are afraid to sign up because they are not educated or don't know how to sign up. It's a real blessing for families who do get one," he said.

Koolick said one of the biggest misconceptions is that the bodies of donors will be disfigured.

"It's nothing like that. It's not like surgeons just rip them out," he said.

When a person registers to donate, they can select which body parts they are willing to donate, Koolick said.

"You can be very specific in what you want to donate," he said.

Many people think donating goes against their religion, but Koolick said major religions, including Christianity, don't speak against it.

Transplants actually have a high success rate and save more than 20,000 lives a year, he said.

Kira Morford, an undeclared sophomore, said a man at her church recently received a successful heart transplant, and without it he wouldn't have been able to live. Since then, she has realized the importance of being an organ donor.

Morford said she is not registered as an organ donor yet because she doesn't know how to register and thinks other students might have the same problem. Students need the resources and facts to be organ donors, she said.

"There are misconceptions, but they're just misconceptions. They're nothing to be afraid of," she said.

Renee Wright, a general biology sophomore, said she is joining UAOD because she has always had an interest in working with organ donation in the medical field.

As a registered organ donor, she said it is important to get the word out to others.

"I won't need them someday. If they can help someone else, that's great," Wright said.

Dawn Montgomery, a physiological science junior, said she registered to donate her organs after reading a pamphlet at Campus Health.

"Most people don't consider it at this age," she said.

Ian Butler, a biochemistry senior, said lack of knowledge about donating organs after death is a problem and said UA students can help.

"We need to help raise awareness between people who need organs and who can donate. Our age group is instrumental in closing this gap," he said.

Butler said his mom was in the health care profession and always stressed the importance of being an organ donor.

"It's an altruistic and humanitarian endeavor," he said.

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