Cindy Xie of Ridgely Middle School in Lutherville-Timonium, Md. and Victoria Danna of Snow Hill High School in Snow Hill, Md. are this year’s winners in the Donate Life Maryland Poster and Essay Contests.
The annual contests are an effort to get Maryland youths thinking and talking about organ, eye and tissue donation. The Living Legacy Foundation received more than 50 entries for the poster contest, which focused on “Knocking out the Myths” about organ donation, and more than 40 entries for the essay contest, which asked Maryland high school students why they are, or intend to register as, designated donors.
“The posters were creative and fun, while still addressing the
common myths and misconceptions about donation,” said Jennifer Gelman, director, of Professional Education for The Living Legacy Foundation. “We were even more impressed with the essays we received because not only were they all overwhelmingly supportive of our cause, but many of the entries also indicated the students already had a personal connection to donation. Their justifications for wanting to be a donor, as well as the personal stories they shared with us were very compelling and made choosing a winner particularly difficult for our judges.”
Xie’s winning poster will be reproduced and displayed in Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration offices throughout the state, and Danna’s essay can be found in The Living Legacy Foundation’s quarterly newsletter, as well as below this article. Xie and Danna will also both receive a $500 savings bond for winning the contests.
The Living Legacy Foundation holds annual contests such as the Poster and Essay Contest to bring donation and transplantation to the attention of Maryland’s youths, who will otherwise likely hear of donation for the first time when they are asked if they’d like to register as a donor upon receiving their driver’s license. Currently, only about a third of Maryland’s licensed drivers are designated organ, eye and tissue donors, and more than 2,000 Maryland residents are currently waiting to receive a life-saving organ transplant. In 2010, 120 Marylanders graciously said yes to organ donation, providing a second chance at life to 383 individuals. In addition, 362 Marylanders generously said yes to tissue donation, which has the potential to enhance the lives of up to 18,000 individuals.
To get information about other Donate Life Maryland contests throughout the year, stay tuned to our blog and “Like” the Donate Life Maryland Facebook page!
Winning Essay Entry by Victoria Danna:
I am Executive Board President of the Snow Hill High School Student Government Association (SGA). As part of my duties, I am responsible for organizing blood drives in order to help supply the local blood banks with much needed blood for our local hospitals on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. As a result of my contacts with our local health care professionals, I became aware of an even greater need, the need for organ, eye, and tissue donors. More than 100,000 people, including over 2000 Maryland residents, are currently waiting for life-saving organ transplants.
Recently I made the decision to become an organ, eye, and tissue donor. This was not a decision I made lightly, but rather after much thought, research and discussion. The more I learned, the more passionate I became about my decision to give new life to others.
In addition, I had the pleasure of meeting a twelve-year-old girl who had been given the chance of a full life after receiving a heart transplant when she was only nine years old. I was struck by her enthusiasm for life and the way she embraced every moment. She was truly grateful for this opportunity and intended to use it to live life to the fullest. I also had the pleasure of meeting a lovely older woman who had received a kidney transplant many years ago, and spoke appreciatively of being able to enjoy her relationship with her grandchildren. Sadly, due to the critical shortage of organs, many of these people will not get a second chance at life.
An average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant. While we cannot prevent all such deaths from occurring, this number could be greatly reduced if more people were simply aware of the need for organ donors and the process to register. 90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor. The process is simple, and can be easily completed online. Last year, almost 29,000 lives in the United States were saved through organ transplants. I am certain that if more people were educated about the registration process and the positive benefits resulting from organ, eye, and tissue donation, we could save many more lives, turning a tragic event into selfless and generous acts of compassion.