Last spring a UAlbany communications course, The Communication Campaign Practicum, piloted a project that built a real public information and awareness campaign for statewide organ and tissue donation for college-age students. From the success of that campaign has come a new research collaboration between the departments of communication at UAlbany, the University at Buffalo and the New York Alliance for Donation (NYAD), formerly the New York State Task Force to Increase Organ and Tissue Donation. The project aims to explore and improve understanding of the motivations behind organ donation. The study’s findings will help determine key messages and themes for a public awareness campaign to promote donation awareness and related issues among young people, an important demographic in the quest to augment the nation’s shortages.
Initially, NYAD will fund communications courses at UAlbany, UBuffalo, and SUNY Geneseo that will expand the UAlbany model. "During our spring 2002 semester course," said UAlbany professor of communication Terri Harrison, "it became apparent that even though we had developed a significant organ and tissue donation public awareness campaign for college-age students, we didn’t have clear concepts on how to approach and talk to students individually about the program. By taking this notion to a research setting we will strengthen our knowledge about the motives behind organ donation, ultimately giving us better insights into reaching this important target audience through various communication methods."
The need for organ donations continues to exceed the supply. Every day in the United States an average of 17 people die waiting for an organ transplant. When a donation is obtained, it is possible to transplant as many as 25 different organs and tissues, including the heart, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas and intestine. Tissue transplants including eyes, bone, skin, heart valves, tendons and veins can fight infections in burn victims, prevent the loss of limbs, and restore eyesight.
For more information visit Organ Donation at UAlbany and the New York State Organ and Tissue Registry.