DonateLifeNY teams up with STJ

In New York City there are more than 8,000 people who are in need of receiving an organ transplant. In 2010 however there were only 242 deceased organ donors according to the New York Organ Donor Network.

The University Office of Community Relations is partnering with the New York Organ Donor Network to address this large disparity and raise awareness of the need for registered organ donors.

The idea for the partnership came from Karen Cummings, an alumnus of the University who works with the network, who called Joe Sciami, the Vice President of Community Relations. Sciami says that Cummings wanted to partner with St. John’s to set up an information program throughout the campus in order for people to learn more about organ donations.

“This follows in the Vincentian mission of St. John’s,” Sciami said. “We’re trying to help others who are less fortunate than us.”

Margaret Cashin believes that the partnership is a continuation of St. John’s focus on helping the health care community. “St. John’s has been branching out into the community of the health field,” she said. “We’ve had blood drives and we’ve partnered with the American Cancer Society in addition to this current project.”

Sciami brought up the recent blood drives on campus and said that the organ awareness program is the next level for the Office of Community Relations. “We’ve had immense success with the blood drives and the organ awareness drive is just us going above and beyond that.”

Sciami said that one of the advantages of the University teaming up with the network was the large number of students, professors and employees on campus. “We have about 21,000 students University wide. In addition to the workers on campus there’s bound to be a few incidences where there are organ matches.”

Representatives from the network will be on campus March 8 during common hour to give presentations on the need for more registered organ donors. Afterwards there will be people from the network in Newman Hall for one-on-one sessions with people interested in registering.

University professor Jane Paley’s public relations class will be hosting a screening of John Q. The movie starring Denzel Washington shows the real life story of a father who took a hospital hostage until his son was given a heart transplant. Representatives from the organ network and community relations will be present to give presentations on organ donations before the movie begins.

Sciami said that this project helps to bring the partnership between the school and organ network into the student realm. “At first the students in the class were like ‘organs?’” he said. “But after hearing the stories of people in need of organ transplants they were so interested.” Cashin added that one of the purposes of the entire project was to take out the “ick factor” involving organ transplants.