My transplant story, Gift of Life month celebrated at DeSales

1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives. Photo courtesy of National Foundation of Transplants.

By Antonia Spano

Layout Editor

April is host of many causes that need awareness. For example, it’s Autism Awareness month. This is a great cause that deserves people’s support. However, people tend to advocate for causes that are personal for them. That is how I feel when it comes to April being Gift of Life month.

I was born late at night on April 12, in the middle of this beautiful month, and immediately turned blue. Within hours, my parents were told that I was born with a seriously malformed heart, and that if I did not get a heart transplant soon, I would die. By soon, they meant I would be lucky if I lasted a few days, maybe a week.

With the grace of God, I received my heart transplant on April 17, at four days old if you counted the hours, which my family did because every second matters when you’re waiting for an organ.

Throughout my life, my family has been advocators for organ and tissue donation. I remember in elementary school, we had to pick a topic for our persuasive essays. While my classmates would choose things like longer weekends or better lunches, I always submitted an organ donation paper to the teacher.

However, I mainly did solo work. An essay here, a presentation there. None of my schools ever got involved in the cause. I got really excited when I heard that DeSales University’s marketing department was hosting an event with Gift of Life the last week of April.

“The seniors in the marketing department are doing this event with Professor McGorry with Gift of Life. Different teams are doing different aspects of the planning for the event,” says senior Ashley Strohlein. “It’s a class project, but it’s also really exciting because it’s a cause we can get behind, a project we can make a difference through!”

I asked around to see if students on campus were registered organ donors. The main reason students aren’t registered is from lack of education and information about the topic.

“I wasn’t aware of it,” says Ellen Cicchitti, a freshman English major. “My parents never talked to me about it.”

Junior David Pantazis says, “There’s no reason I don’t have it. It’s just not on there.”

Since the problem is lack of education, the solution is to fill in the holes of information. Some of the myths I’ve heard over the years, as reasons not to be a donor, include the idea that the emergency room will not take care of you if you are a donor. However, this is not true. Emergency rooms are focused on the patient, and that’s you.

So, please consider becoming an organ donor. The marketing department will have a table in the DUC where you can sign up to become a donor. And always remember: “Don’t take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here.”

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