Organ Donation Education – More States Teaching Classes or Incorporating Them Into Driver’s Ed

I know this could cause some waves & probably be considered by some to be controversial, but I think it’s a great thing that Delaware is doing.

I checked the box in high school on my driver’s license & have since then (even when I knew I wouldn’t be able to donate much of any organs or tissues because of my health conditions) but it was primarily because I had a whole community who educated on the importance of why it was important to give blood & to sign up be an organ donor, even if it wasn’t formally taught.  I was aware of some of the myths & objections but I felt the community where I grew up did a lot to not feed into them & encourage people to sign up to be donors in a way that was empowering and non-threatening & dispelled a lot of those fears & myths.

It also helped that I had a high school biology teacher who made a point to take his anatomy & physiology students to a local college to actually view cadavers that nursing & paramedic students were learning on. Now some may find this unsettling for a high school setting, but he did this with juniors & seniors in high school in his anatomy & physiology classes.  Participation was encouraged but not forced. It was also done in conjunction with one of the professors at that college who carefully prepared us for what we were about to see & made it interesting from a scientific perspective.  I also think it actually made our lessons with the more complex parts of anatomy & physiology more relatable and easier to understand.

I think that was one of the most meaningful things that teacher did.  It seemed bold when we would find out about it. Admittedly even those of us who were excited felt uneasy at first (or at least I did). But after (and of course looking back), most of us felt positive about it. It was almost like a college prep day.  It’s probably nothing now compared to some of the AP offerings at high school level presently, but back then it seemed a big deal to us, even at that age.

(Although, truth be told, I found dissecting cats in anatomy lab in junior college to be more disturbing & unsettling than that experience.)

My point with relating that experience was there was a lot of preconceived notions about what was being studied in those college programs & what we were being exposed to then that were quite unfounded.  In fact, those people that were being studied had to have both their own consent & consent of their family to donate their body to science in that way. They made a conscious choice to help other future medical professionals learn (which many people did not realize at first until students started making them aware of the fact).

I think those who have preconceived notions about organ donation would be more willing to overcome them if given the opportunity to learn more & get the facts & then decide for themselves.

This age seems the right place to start such a discussion. I think this is equally important as driver’s education or health class just to even make people aware & get the facts so they can decide for themselves. (It also serves to prevent perpetuating rumors that cause barriers to donation).

I think this is because of more living donor transplants occurring in recent years. I also feel that more people are finding people they know personally in their communities, loved ones, or friends who may need a transplant (or have had one). Or it can also be as simple as people seeing more news reports, programs, or articles about organ donation or transplant as a whole. This also includes increased exposure through social media outlets.

It was a pleasant surprise for me to find this article & to find 13 states already have some kind of formal education on organ donation in schools.  My state & 2 others passed legislation this year to start.

Hopefully, more states will look at Delaware & others & be encouraged to be more forward thinking.

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