Organ Donation Unit of Study Introduced in New York City Public Schools

Organ Donation Unit of Study Introduced in New York City Public Schools

LiveOnNY and the NYC Department of Education Team Up to Educate Teens About Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation

New York, NY, March 8, 2018 — After years of collaboration, LiveOnNY and the New York City Department of Education are rolling out a five-lesson unit of study that educates high school students about organ donation and transplantation. The goal of the unit of study is to equip students with the information necessary to make an informed decision about enrolling as an organ donor. It is designed to be incorporated into the homeostasis unit of the Living Environment science curriculum.

“It is our hope that this unit of study will help young people get all the facts on organ donation before they are faced with the question of registering as a donor,” said LiveOnNY President & CEO Helen Irving. “We believe that engaging them on the topic through this unit of study will help them understand exactly how donation and transplantation works.”

The new unit of study was first piloted in six local schools in spring 2017 and teachers gave it highly positive reviews. The organ donation unit of study is particularly pertinent because in 2017 the age to register as an organ donor in New York was lowered from 18 to 16. Now New Yorkers 16 and older are asked if they wish to register as an organ donor when they obtain a driver’s permit or license, non-driver ID, idNYC card, and register to vote.

"Informed decisions about organ donation are critical, especially for high school students not familiar with this process,” said New York State Assemblyman and Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz, who sponsored the legislation that ultimately lowered the age to register from 18 to 16. “I’m pleased that our students will have the opportunity to learn about making the decision to donate an organ and to help save lives. This is a major step forward. "

New York State Senator Kemp Hannon, who also sponsored the legislation, echoed this sentiment. “Deciding to become an organ and tissue donor is a charitable and generous decision many young adults would like to make,” he said. “High school students need to know the importance of organ donation and why they are asked if they want to register as an organ donor. This education initiative will help them gain a better understanding of the process.”

A 2016 Ipsos Public Affairs study showed that many New Yorkers do not understand organ and tissue donation and that 40% believe a doctor will not do all it can to save them if they are registered as an organ donor. These misconceptions show the need for education about organ and tissue donation in our public schools.

In the lessons, students are taught about organ donation and cystic fibrosis through the eyes of a student, Lavon, and his new classmate, Ava, who has cystic fibrosis. The lessons provide real world context through interactive activities that engage students. These activities include infographics, videos, text and blogs.

Over the coming weeks, New York City science teachers across all five boroughs will be trained by LiveOnNY staff to enable them to effectively teach the new unit of study in their classrooms.

Trainings will take place on the following days:

March 10 at LiveOnNY’s offices

March 13 at NYU Langone Health

March 14 at Montefiore Medical Center

March 15 at Bohemian Hall

About LiveOnNY

LiveOnNY is a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) dedicated to saving lives, providing comfort, and strengthening legacies through organ, eye, and tissue donation. The OPO, which was established in 1978, serves a culturally and ethnically diverse population of 13 million residents in New York City, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley. Working closely with transplant centers and hospitals, LiveOnNY coordinates organ, eye, and tissue donation for transplant, educates the public and healthcare professionals about donation and transplantation, and promotes the importance of signing up on the New York State Donate Life Registry.  LiveOnNY works closely with ten transplant centers, 98 hospitals, and several tissue and eye banks.  LiveOnNY is accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and a member of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which oversees the organ transplant waiting list in the U.S. For more information, please visit LiveOnNY.org