UT Medical Center recognized for raising organ donation awareness

August 5, 2014 | News, UToday, UTMC
By Lindsay Mahaney



For the second year in a row, The University of Toledo Medical Center is being named a gold partner in the Ohio Hospital Association Organ Donation Champions program.

donatelifelogocolorrgb1The winners were announced at the association’s recent annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Each facility received a trophy with its name engraved on it.

More than 40 Ohio hospitals and transplant centers partnered with Donate Life Ohio, the Ohio Hospital Association and the Ohio Department of Health’s Second Chance Trust Fund to participate in the program for 2013-14. Logging more than 1,300 activities, the hospitals hosted registration events, raised public awareness, and worked to promote awareness of organ, eye and tissue donation in their communities.

UT junior communication major Valerie Augustyniak, an intern in the hospital health-care marketing office, organized many of the events and tracked the programs. She said working with organ donor registration is important because it creates the opportunity to save lives.

“One person can save a life more than anyone can imagine,” she said. “It’s so important for even just one more person to sign up to be a donor.”

Some of the events at UT included organ donation registration tables on campuses, informational videos at home basketball games, a flag-raising ceremony, and a donor memorial gathering for the loved ones of organ and tissue donors. Posters and social media posts also were used to spread the word and raise awareness.

Augustyniak said her favorite event was the green chair campaign held in April. The Life Connection of Ohio green chair was brought to UTMC so transplant recipients could sit in it and share their personal stories. The green chair campaign is representative of a second chance at life when someone is seated in the chair and the loss of someone who died waiting for a transplant when it sits empty, according to the Life Connection of Ohio website.

“It’s really touching to see what’s behind the person,” Augustyniak said. “It makes you want to be able to donate. There are people on the list who never get to see an organ. They never get one. It’s just an opportunity that one more person gets added to the donor list and they could save a life.”

Trauma Services Director Kristin Calkins said the University is reaching out to the community because it’s important for people to know all the information about organ donation before deciding whether or not to sign up.

“We’re out there, we’re doing the education,” she said. “Obviously saving lives is our first and foremost priority, but it helps raise awareness to our staff, to lay people, to anybody who’s interested in knowing about organ and tissue donation. A lot of it’s trying to campaign and get people to recognize the benefits and get them to sign up.”

Already planning for next year, Augustyniak said she is brainstorming with Calkins about new and different ways to bring more events to UTMC. She said she especially wants to work on more community outreach.

For more information on organ donation, visit Life Connection of Ohio’s website at lifeconnectionofohio.org.