Celebrities help “Give Life” event at FIT

Today we have a guest blog submitted to us by Christina Alibrandi, a senior at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  Give Life is a group project of students, led by Christina, in the “Principles of Public Relations” class, taught by FIT Professor Loretta Volpe.  Christina was assisted on the project by classmates:  Karina Abbaj, James Lim, Alicia Moo-Pow, and Sarah Scott Smith, all of whom are Advertising and Marketing Communications majors.

On Monday, November 8th the Fashion Institute of Technology hosted their first ever Give Life Event at the college in the John E. Reeves Great Hall at 7:30pm. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about the importance of being a registered organ donor. Kristin Molini, a recent recipient of a five organ transplant shared her story of her struggles before and after her transplant. Julia Rivera and Maria Torres (also a transplant survivor) from the New York Organ Donor Network also spoke about the critical need for registered organ donors as New York has one of the lowest percentages of registered organ donors.

Celebrity guests in attendance were: Grizz Chapman of 30 Rock, a recent kidney transplant survivor, Real Housewives of New Jersey Danielle Staub, actor Eric West, celebrity stylist Alexa Winner , fashion designers Alexander Berardi and  Malan Breton, celebrity personal trainer Brice HallPreston O’Neil Roberson-Charles from  MTV’s  Real World: New Orleans, NY Magazine fashion editor  Amy O’Dell, and celebrity blogger Micah Jesse .

Raising awareness about organ donation is critical in New York, as the state has one of the lowest percentages of registered organ donors in the country—just 13 percent of individuals age 18 and older.

Currently, close to 110,000 people in the United States are waiting for organ transplants.  Approximately 18 people a day die while waiting. Of those waiting, approximately 9,600 people in New York State need life-saving organ transplants. In 2009, there were just 423 deceased organ donors in the entire state, 285 of them in the greater New York metropolitan area.

Research shows that while college students generally are in favor of organ donation, many are not registered. The goal of the Give Life event is to raise understanding about organ donation and the importance of registering as an organ donor.

The Electronic Signature Act, introduced in the New York State legislature by Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried and State Senator Thomas K. Duane, and signed in July by Governor David Paterson, will enable New Yorkers to enroll in the state organ donor registry online. However, before it is implemented, New Yorkers will continue to have to download, fill out, print and mail a form.

Organ donation by a single individual can save up to eight lives. A donor who additionally  registers as an eye and tissue donor can save or improve up to fifty lives.

Christina Alibrandi, on why she wanted to do this event:

“I did this event for a few different reasons. First off it was a class project that was given to us by our teacher, Professor Loretta Volpe. She has been working with the organization for years and always involves a class with the NY Organ Donor Network each semester. I am a strong believer in the cause because my uncle had a successful heart transplant and is still alive and well today. I think that organ donation is a great thing because it helps people get a second chance at life when otherwise they wouldnt have one. Another reason I did the event is that I wanted to raise a lot of awareness about the cause on not just a student level like my class mates were doing. I wanted to really speak to more than just college students and get media placement where people from all over could read about this event. The event was very successful because having the celebrities in attendance really made a big impact. They tweeted, facebook updated and used social media to express how happy they were at the event. Also having celebrities in attendance made photographers and media come to the event and cover it. Overall it was a great way to spread the word about the importance of being a registered organ donor. ”

About FIT:

FIT, a leader in career-oriented education, is a selective college of art and design, business and technology of the State University of New York (SUNY), with 46 majors leading to the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees.  The college serves more than 10,000 students and offers courses in a wide range of fields.  Visit www.fitnyc.edu.

About the New York Organ Donor Network:

The New York Donor Network is the federally designated nonprofit organ procurement organization (OPO) in the greater New York area. The Donor Network is responsible for the recovery of organs and tissues for life-saving and quality of life improvement transplants; and education of health care professionals and the public about the importance of organ donation and enrollment on the New York State Donate Life Registry. Its service area covers a culturally and ethnically diverse population of 13 million in the five boroughs of New York City; all of Long Island; Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester counties; in addition to Pike County, PA.   For a free informational brochure and a donor registration materials log on to www.DonateLifeNY.org or call the New York Organ Donor Network at 646-291-4444.

At Celebrity Diagnosis, we have done a number of articles about organ donation:

Natasha Richardson Donates Organs

Natalie Cole Receives New Kidney

Steve Job’s Liver Transplant

30 Rock’s Grizzwald “Grizz” Chapman Needs a New Kidney, and UPDATE (with emphasis on the need for minority donors)

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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