Organ donation, as a concept has only recently caught on. However, India lags behind as there is only one organ donor per one million people. The low figure can have many reasons, but the primary one is awareness. People do not know how and where to pledge their organs.
The best way of spreading awareness is to educate the future generations, so they grow up with the right mindset. Academic experts and school principals have already started taking steps towards creating awareness among school students. According to them, students can spread the word among parents and their peer groups.
There are many ways in which children are learning this vital lesson. Year-long campaigns, regular lessons on organ donation, and even a 30-minute video drama–the last one recorded by Class VIII and Class IX students of SVPV Vidyalaya, Kandivli, Mumbai. The skit was about a child’s parents who decide to donate his organs after he dies at a young age.
Students also make presentations on organ donation during open house sessions when parents visit, according to Sudha Shanbaug, Principal, Children’s Academy, Malad, as said to The Times of India. The school is all geared up to host a 15-day awareness drive in August, a line-up to World Organ Donation Day, on the 13th.
While initiatives on select days are great, the mention of organ donation in textbooks is what influences young minds. The Maharashtra State Board recently published textbooks that speak on the topic. The book enumerates the usefulness and importance of organ donation and provides information like links to WHO resources on organ donation, as well as the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994.
But just how much can you push the concept? A 2013 circular from the Department of Student Welfare at the Mumbai University wants to print donation pledges on student ID cards. This hasn’t gone down well with all, with the Principal of Jai Hind College claiming that donation should be voluntary.
Spreading the message among students is great, and apart from the mentions in textbooks and presentations, schools would do well to implement a few suggestions.
1. Use video to create awareness–This method of communication gets the point across directly. Students can be shown documentaries or short films about organ donation which will plant the message firmly in their minds. Also, watching something is more interesting than reading about it, especially for those who struggle to pay constant attention.
2. Guest lectures:- A medical personnel, i.e. a doctor, or an organ recipient would be able to give a first-hand account of what happens if you don’t find a donor match, or how life changes after receiving an organ.
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Organ donation is important, and its message must be spread among students. Using the correct medium shall ensure the message sticks in their minds!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)