Colleen Boyle, a junior at the University of Georgia majoring in biology and genetics, is the founder and president of Donate Life UGA. Donate Life is a national non-profit organization that seeks to increase the number of organ, eye, and tissue donations by educating people about donation and promoting donation registration. Boyle became involved with the Donate Life project when she realized that many people have serious misconceptions about what organ donation entails: “A lot of people feel that if they go to the hospital with any serious injury that the doctors will let them pass away and then use their organs instead of saving their life which is absolutely not true.”

Boyle believes the best way to promote donation is by educating people about donation and making the topic of donation a priority for public discussion: “When people go to the DMV and it says ‘do you want to be an organ donor, check yes or no’ that’s all it says. It doesn’t say what it means to be an organ donor, it doesn’t tell you what organs you can donate – nothing. I think because of that a lot of people just sideswipe it; they don’t realize how important it is. Organ donation affects everyone.”

There are 120,000 people in the United States currently on the waiting list. Every day, eighteen of those people die, and, every day, 144 more people are added to that list — it’s easy to see that the need is rapidly increasing.  Boyle believes it’s time to stop thinking about these deaths as simply statistics; her approach for increasing rates of donor registration is by making it “more personal.” By reaching out to people at the individual level, and discussing with each person his or her worries, it will be easier to dispel certain misconceptions about donation and to convey the gravity of the current situation. Donate Life UGA believes it is essential that people come to see donation as fundamentally a “life-giving privilege, not a death warrant.”

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