ISU Public Relations Student Society of America draws attention to need for organ donating


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

ISU students sign the “have the talk” pledge to sit down and talk about their wishes for organ donation with their parents. Student members of Public Relations Student Society of America organized the event.

Dalton Bergan

Due to rain, the ISU Public Relations Student Society of America had to move inside Carver Hall to raise awareness about organ donation April 24. The booth they set up is part of a national public relations competition.

The event was from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside Carver Hall, where the society set up a booth offering information about the benefits of being an organ donor.

The event was originally supposed to be on Central Campus.

“It was a bummer that it had to be moved inside, but I think that we got pretty much the same [results],” said Hannah Lilienthal, event co-chairwoman. “If it was outside, we were going to have games and music playing and it would have been slightly more interactive.”

Students who stopped by could get a free cupcake for taking some time to look at the booth. Informative pictures and videos were set up for students to watch, and society members were there to answer any questions.

After learning about organ donation, students were asked to sign a poster pledging that they would talk with their parents about the decision to be an organ donor and discuss what they would want done with their organs if they were to be donated.

“The event’s purpose is to spread organ donor awareness,” said Erika Clyma, event co-chairwoman. “Our main goal is to have people sign the poster saying that they’ll have a talk with family members on organ donation.”

Students who were not currently organ donors but wanted to be could register at the booth to become an official organ donor.

“We got a ton of signatures,” Lilienthal said. “We actually got maybe five or six new people registered as organ donors. The [ultimate goal] was to get people to understand that it’s important to talk to their families.”

This specific event was part of a competition known as the National Organ Donor Awareness Competition and hosted by Rowan University’s public relations society. Chapters throughout the nation host organ donor awareness events during the month of April, and the ones with the best results win a $400 prize.

Last year, Iowa State’s chapter placed third in the nation.

Besides getting students to sign the poster, the society measured student involvement by encouraging students to tweet about the event and about organ donation.

“They could tweet, ‘#heroesdonatelife @ISUNODAC,’” Clyma said. “If they tweeted that and showed us the tweet, we would enter them in a drawing to win either a sweatshirt that was donated from the bookstore or a $50 VISA gift card.”

Jane Jorgensen of the Iowa Donor Network was at the booth to speak with students about how organ donation has impacted her life.

“Back in 1989 or 1990, my husband received a liver transplant, and when he came back home, he wanted to get involved with promoting organ donation,” Jorgensen said. “[Because of the donation], he went back to teaching, he saw his girls graduate from high school and college and saw one of them get married, so we know what a difference it made in him being able to live longer.”

Around 150 people stopped by the booth and signed the poster throughout the day, a result that both Lilienthal and Clyma were happy with.

“For the amount of time we spent on this, I think the turnout ended up being pretty good” said Clyma. “I hope that next year we can get started a little bit earlier on this. I think that this event could actually turn into something really big on campus.”