• High school gets grant to help spread awareness about organ and tissue donation

    By Brit Milazzo
    bmilazzo@basd.net
    Public relations, BASD

    Bellefonte Area High School received an OTDA grant this school year to help bring organ and tissue donation awareness to the area, and it starts with events Wednesday, Jan. 10 at the boys' varsity basketball game against Tyrone.

    High school English teacher Jennifer Walter said guest speaker Bill Council will talk during halftime of the game about his experience with organ donation. A few years ago, Council was the recipient of a partial liver that helped save his life. There will also be an information booth, and a drive to collect paper and cleaning goods to donate to the Gift of Life Family House in Philadelphia – a place where individuals and their families live while waiting for, and recovering from, organ transplants.

    Retired district nurse Karen Truesdale said this is the second school year the grant has been handed out to Bellefonte Area in the amount of about $5,000.

    “What we’re to do with the grant is help spread awareness for the need of organ donation, mainly through class curriculum,” she said.

    Through the grant in the past two years, driver education instructor Mike Wilson has talked with students seeking to get a driver’s license about the organ donation option; a bust of an anatomy figure was purchased for Tina Rhoades’ anatomy and physiology class; and books were purchased for the library that go on display. Many of those books, Truesdale said, are biographies about people who have received organ transplants.

    “Kids might not be sure what direction they want to go in in conjunction with this topic, but awareness might bring light to what they want to do in terms of organ donation,” Truesdale said.

    The grant will also help fund transportation for a field trip in April to take a group of students to the Gift of Life Family House for a tour and presentation. While there, students will also present representatives from the home with donations.

    According to information from Donate Life PA, 4.6 million people in the commonwealth have signed up to be organ and tissue donors, but more than 8,000 Pennsylvanians are still waiting for organ and tissue transplants.