MSU effort targets potential organ donors
SARAH OKESON • NEWS-LEADER
Missouri State University senior Katy Schott stood out amid more than 100 people dressed as assorted wizards before the midnight premiere of the latest Harry Potter movie at Campbell 16 Cine.
Schott was dressed in a sandwich board promoting organ donation.
Her attire was part of a class project by MSU marketing students who, with help from St. John's Health System, hope to get 1,300 to 1,800 people to register by Dec. 6 to be organ donors.
MSU student Karl Kinder, who was also at the Harry Potter premiere, wore a T-shirt extolling organ donation that featured zombies.
"Everyone in our class has gotten way more into it than just being a project," Kinder said. "All the groups have gotten 30 to 40 people signed up every day."
The students dubbed their effort the X-50 project, because each organ donor has the potential to improve the lives of 50 people. So far, more than 500 people have registered to become organ donors, including a steady stream of people at the Harry Potter premiere.
"It's so much more than an 'A,'" said Melissa Burnett, director of the advertising program at MSU. "It isn't about an 'A' anymore. They're coming up with some really great things."
The drive includes a free performance by the Skinny Improv comedy team; karaoke at the coffeehouse Potter's House; and concerts at the Front Porch and Nathan P. Murphy's.
MSU student Melissa Brown signed up to become organ donor at the Harry Potter premiere.
"There's always something good that can come out of something bad, and I can make it easier on my family by doing this," Brown said.
About 38 percent of Greene County residents are registered to be organ donors, according to Mid-America Transplant Services, which covers 120 hospitals in Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas. People who register go on the Missouri Donor Registry. If they die in a hospital, their organs are removed for donation. Family consent is not required for organ donors under a law that went into effect in August 2008.
Breita Church, the director of donation services in Springfield for Mid-America Transplant Services, said relatives of donor families in Springfield have never objected.
"When most people see that, they're seeing their loved one's final wishes," Church said. "It's never been an issue, and I hope it never is."
Rick Parks, 53, of Springfield, is one person who benefited from organ donation. Parks, who had suffered from at least three heart attacks and congestive heart failure, had a heart transplant in April 2009.
"Things are so much better than they were," Parks said. "Incredibly better. It used to take me four hitches to get up my basement steps, and I'd be incredibly worn out. Now I work out three times a week."
Marjorie Bryan, the donor program specialist for Mid-America Transplant Services, said people sign up to be organ donors for altruistic reasons or to give them some sense of control over their end.
"When they pass away, they die a hero," Bryan said.
CoxHealth and St. John's both have high organ-donation rates. At St. John's, the organs of about 92 percent of brain dead patients are donated. The donation rate at CoxHealth is about 90 percent.