Students in communications class promote organ donation awareness

Stephanie Olmedo

Five CSUN students are taking a class project out of the classroom and into the community by promoting organ donation awareness among students.

Students of Professor Gigi Hessamian communications 323 class are promoting Donate Life California, an online system that registers organ donors, on campus to encourage students to become organ donors.

“The purpose of the project is to get students communicating and interacting effectively in groups, since this is so important in real-world settings,” said Hessamian.

Donate Life California is a nonprofit organ and tissue donor registry. The registry allows people who are at least 18 years of age to register their consent to donate specific organs and tissues upon their death.

Jesus Corral, a senior business major who originally proposed Donate Life California to his group, feels a personal connection with the program.

Corral has a brother and a sister who are both kidney recipients. He says he’s seen the stress that comes with waiting for an organ donation. His brother was on a waiting list for 15 years, while his sister waited for 13 years.

Corral says there was previously a system available through the Department of Motor Vehicles for people to register as organ donors but the system had faults.

The Donate Life California website states that people who gave their consent to be a donor and placed a pink dot on their license were not placed on a registry through the DMV.

“There were problems with that system. The sticker would come off and there was no real way of tracking people,” says Corral. “Through that system, family members carried the weight of the final decision on donating the organs of their deceased. Through Donate Life a person is placed in a binding contract.”

As part of the training, Corral and his group members went learned what organs and tissues can be donated, as well as terminology and when a person can and can’t offer transplants.

The information supplied by Donate Life California says that among the organs available for a person to donate are heart, kidneys, liver, skin and corneas.

Veronica Marin, a senior finance major said some people have expressed negative sentiments toward their group and the organization they are promoting.

“There have been objections, but mainly from people who are misinformed,” said Marin. “They’re not aware of the procedures. It’s good to be able to answer people’s questions and not to be pushy.”

The students hope to register 1 percent of the CSUN student body, about 350 students, by the end of their Donate Life campaign.

Hessamian says she hopes her students learn about teamwork and how to work outside the classroom.

“I encourage all the groups to invest their energy in the campus or surrounding community,” says Hessamian. “The fact that the group has chosen such a worthy cause is really rewarding to me personally.”

Corral said it takes passion and emotion to be involved with this organization and he looks to his siblings for motivation.

“If you know my brother and sister you know they have the strongest will. Just when you think it’s their last breath and the tears are coming down, they get their strength from somewhere,” he said.

Corral and his group members will be in front of the Oviatt Library on April 17 and 22 from 10a.m. to 2p.m. registering students.

For these students it has become more than getting a grade, it is about giving back to the community.

“I really think everyone should be an organ donor,” says Marin. “It has become a personal objective to encourage my friends to join.”

For Corral he wants to give back to those who helped his family through their own struggle.