UVM students uninformed about organ donation

While only 15.42 people a year in Vermont are donating organs, according to The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, there appears to be a lack of clarity among UVM students regarding their organ donating rights. The New England Organ Bank states, “If your state’s motor vehicle department offers you the option to become a donor, [it] is an excellent way to make your wishes known.” According to CNN, in an article titled “Drivers Ed used to teach organ donation”, published in 2003, only nine states, not including Vermont, required discussion about organ do?nation in driver’s education courses.”Today”, said Richard Laeng, a Public Health Analyst of the U.S. government Division of Transplantation, “as of November 2006, there are 18 States or territories that teach donor education through driver’s education.”So the list has grown, yet many states, including Vermont, have decided not to participate.When DMV Chief of Customer Service in Burlington, Vt., Michael Smith, was asked why organ donation is not included in the Driver’s Education Manual, he said, “you cannot donate when you are getting a learner’s permit. You have to be eighteen.”Despite the lack of law enforcing discussion about organ donation in Vermont, a few students did hear about organ donation through Drivers Ed.UVM freshman and Vermont resident, Patrick LaClair said “yes, I did hear about [organ donation] at Driver’s Ed., but not at the DMV.”Smith said, “we only tell people if they ask about it (organ donation), but we keep [the pamphlets] next to the cameras where people must go to fill out forms . . . our focus is on motor vehicles.”When asked what the best way was to sign up to be an organ donor, Smith suggested either signing the back of one’s license or filling out a Uniform Donor Card, which can be found through a PDF link on the Donate Life section of the Fletcher Allen Web site.Yet, Smith said “even if you sign your license, that doesn’t mean you’re a donor. If a family says ‘no,’ it doesn’t matter what you sign.” As UVM students were being interviewed, some had to look at their license to remember whether they were donors or not.John Viscido, a UVM freshman and resident of Vermont, said that all he knew about organ donation is that “‘the man’ takes your organs after you die.”In response to why he was not an organ donor, another UVM freshman, Mac Esters said “in Judaism, you’re supposed to go back to God the way you came.”William Paden, professor of religion at UVM, indicated that different groups within the three main monotheistic religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, could view organ donation as interfering with their journey to the afterlife.Other UVM students have a very different stance.Bridget Treco, a UVM freshman, said “I don’t want my body parts going to waste.”