Eastern Michigan students win state's organ donor drive competition

by Pamela Young, Published March 12, 2010

YPSILANTI - It took seven weeks of donor drive tables on campus, Facebook and Twitter updates, e-mails, radio interviews and community outreach programs. But in the end, more than 2,000 people statewide signed up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry during the 2010 Gift of Life Campus Challenge.

Eastern’s campaign, spearheaded by the EMU Student Nurses Association, led the state for the most donor registrations, with 405 registrants indicating they heard about organ donation from the EMU campaign. This is Eastern’s first time winning a Campus Challenge trophy. Siena Heights University won the trophy for the highest percentage of its student population signing up on the donor registry.

Sixteen Michigan colleges and universities, plus the Wayne State University School of Medicine, participated in the event, which ran January 14 – March 4.

An increased use of social media was a key to EMU’s success, said Jennifer Tislerics, special events coordinator for Gift of Life Michigan, which sponsored the event.

“This year featured Facebook advertising as part of a federal research grant into what motivates people to sign up on donor registries,” said Tislerics. “Ads that targeted the EMU network on Facebook started February 1.”

Tislerics said EMU’s success also was helped in part by three donor drive tables hosted on campus by the EMU Lions Club, in cooperation with the Michigan Eye Bank.

Gift of Life Michigan is the state's only nonprofit, full-service organ and tissue recovery organization. It acts as an intermediary between donor hospitals and recipient transplant centers, providing services for organ and tissue donation. The organization also sponsors education and outreach programs throughout Michigan.

“We continue to be impressed by the generosity of our state’s young people,” said Richard Pietroski, chief executive officer of Gift of Life Michigan. “Each year, during the Campus Challenge, Michigan college students demonstrate a wonderful zeal for life. Their efforts in this campaign offer hope to people waiting for life-saving transplants.”

The Gift of Life Campus Challenge is one of the most successful organ donation college outreach programs in the nation, and has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services for its exceptional results, said Tislerics. In the seven years since its inception, the Campus Challenge has encouraged nearly 24,000 people to join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. Nearly 10,000 Michigan patients have received an organ transplant in the last 10 years. For more information, or to sign up on the donor registry, go to www.giftoflifemichigan.org

Pamela Young

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