It’s something she’s been passionate about ever since January 8, 1999 when her brother was killed in a car accident.
Kaycie Goff, biology senior, chose organ donating to be the topic of her senior project for leadership. “I have known that I wanted organ donating to be the focus of my senior project since I knew I had to do a senior project,” said Goff. “Organ donating is very important to me because of the loss of my brother and I wanted to get the word out about how important it really is.”
Her brother had a sticker on his license, but wasn’t able to be a donor because the back of it was not signed. Goff put together a presentation on April 12 in order to raise awareness about organ donating.
Cliff Stewart was at the presentation to speak about his own experience with a heart donation. Stewart is the uncle of Caitlin Smith, sport management senior, and she gave Goff his name in order to assist with the presentation.
Stewart discussed the extensive process he went through in order to be qualified for the transplant. He had to have a chest radiograph, an echocardiogram, a carotid doppler, a renal sonogram, do a bicycle cardiac stress test, a pulmonary function test and right heart catheterization. He also had to see a cardiologist, a nephrologist, a pulmonologist, a pharmacist, a psychiatrist, a dietician, a social worker, thoracic surgeon(s) and a transplant nurse coordinator.
After all of this Stewart was put on the list to receive a heart. Twenty three days passed by before he got a call from his doctor. “I was barbequing fish at the time and he asked how I was and told me not to eat because they had a heart for me,” said Stewart.
His life completely changed after his transplant and he says not he is able to enjoy golf, riding his Harley, his family and grandchildren and he does “whatever trips his trigger.”
He gives one piece of advice to people when it comes to becoming an organ donator. He said, “Don’t take your organs to heaven; heaven knows we need them here.”
Nancy Jacobs, who is an organ donor specialist from the Midwest Transplant Network, finds Cliff’s circumstance to be lucky since many people often wait a long time for a transplant. She spoke at the presentation in order to explain her job, which is two-fold. “I’m a dual advocate,” she said. “I am the one who talks to the family after a car accident, suicide etc… The other half is finding the organ to save lives of people I don’t know.”
Jacobs helped the audience to understand that the becoming a donor is different than in the past. Jacobs said, “You don’t even have to sign the back of your license anymore and we will help your family deal with that.”
She also gave information about all of the different organs which can be recovered from a donor. Those are the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and islet cells. “One to eight lives can be saved from one donator,” said Jacobs.
Another part of Goff’s project includes a brief on presumed consent which she hopes will get a hearing from the state. Presumed consent means that any person who wishes to opt out of being an organ donor has to be put on a national registry and everyone else who automatically be assumed to be a donator. Goff believes it would be easier to keep track of the people who don’t want to be donators. “I personally think it’s good because there are only 34 percent of people who donate and only two percent who would opt out,” said Goff.
Goff wants to let students know the importance, even at a young age, of being a donator. “Students don’t often think about donating because no one wants to think about dying and that’s why it’s important that students think about it because accidents do happen just like what happened to my brother,” said Goff. “It’s important that they let their family know of their wishes.”