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Donation Education is coming to ALL Ohio Schools!

EmmaWhen Emmalyn Brown was nine, her immune system attacked her liver, causing it to fail completely. Within a two-week span, her health rapidly deteriorated and doctors prepared her family for the worst. Emmalyn’s only hope was a liver transplant. Fourteen days after she became ill, a selfless donor gave her a second chance at life on April 9, 2007.

As the years went by, she and her family became advocates for donation and it wasn’t surprising when Emmalyn was in high school that she made organ donation the focus project for her government class.  Her teacher challenged the students to make a change within their community that could potentially be realized. Recognizing the lack of access to information and resources on organ, eye and tissue donation for young people within her community, she proposed legislation that would require the facts about donation to be included as part of the State of Ohio High School health curriculum.

“As a teenager, one is first faced with the question of whether or not to be a donor when getting a driver’s license,” says Brown. “And while the topic was briefly covered in my driver’s education class, I recognized the information as biased, and students’ questions were not being fully or accurately answered by the instructor. I realized making it part of the high school curriculum was one solution that could potentially be realized.”

Emma didn’t stop at receiving an “A” on her project, but contacted her local state representative, Debbie Phillips, to suggest her idea be considered as a real change in the Ohio High School Health curriculum.  Debbie saw the idea had value and that it could impact the lives of many Ohioans and introduced it as House Bill 137 in 2015.  The language was later incorporated into House Bill 438 and passed by the 131st Ohio General Assembly in December 2016.

On January 4, 2017 Governor John Kasich signed the bill into law.  The new statute requires public high schools to include in their health curricula “the process of making an anatomical gift under Chapter 2108 of the Revised Code, with an emphasis on the life-saving and life-enhancing effects of organ and tissue donation.”  This new requirement will be in effect for the 2017/18 school year.

While our community education efforts traditionally extend to approximately 80 percent of the high schools in our service area, Lifeline of Ohio is pleased to be able to work collaboratively with our donation colleagues around the state, as well as the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Education, to bring the message of donation to health classes in ALL Ohio high schools.

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