Being an organ and tissue donor could save 58 lives. Imagine having a family member or even yourself needing an organ transplant. Now, further imagine seeing the disparities between the amount of minorities on the donor list and the amount of underrepresented communities who have registered as donors. Talking about death is a taboo subject for most, but particularly in underserved communities. DoT Org works tirelessly to clear up the common myths and misconceptions of organ and tissue donation and to register more donors from minority communities. This is the reason why DoT Org (Donation of Tissues & Organs) has been selected by the Volunteer Center Fellows to win the Mongelli Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement for Winter 2014.
Founded in 2001 under the name Be Carded, the organization changed its name to DoT Org in 2006 and also added an educational component to the club. The main goal is still to register as many donors as possible in underrepresented communities but to also educate high school students about higher education requirements and options. Members of the club joined for various reasons but all agree that the main reasons are to address the health disparities in underserved communities and also to educate people about the need for more organ and tissue donors.
With over 100 members and 58 new volunteers trained already this year, DoT Org strives to keep expanding their outreach in the community. The goal every quarter is to go to at least 2 high school sites and 2 health fairs, but DoT Org often surpasses this goal. A typical day at site involves waking early and arriving at the office to collect all of the necessary paperwork, including evaluations. Then, with a van full of eager volunteers, DoT Org drives to the high school or health fair site and begins setting up their presentation. After completing their presentation about the need for organ donors, the group gives every participant an evaluation form asking about the presentation and how likely they are to register to be donors. Every member values these feedback forms as it allows them to work on their communication skills and evaluate how effective their presentation was.
During such site visits, many people have responded extremely favorably. One participant talked about how he himself had a transplant and not only signed up to be a donor right on spot, but also inquired about how we could become a volunteer. Another transplant recipient, Vicky Nguyen, who is also a Donate Life ambassador, is very enthusiastic when she helps out at sites in Asian American communities. If participants are too uncomfortable talking about such a taboo topic such as death and organ donation, DoT Org also talks about living donations such as donating blood or a kidney to those in need.
Another huge part of the organization’s mission is to attend fundraising events such as the Donate Life 5K run/walks. By supporting other organizations with similar missions, DoT Org is better working towards spreading the word about the importance of organ donation. Also, at such run/walks, DoT Org is able to celebrate the second chance of life that occurs when organ transplant recipients receive their life-saving donations.
In the future, DoT Org is hoping to work more closely with community partners. Dot Org hopes to expand into the Asian American community to counter the stigma that many Asian cultures have against blood/tissue/organ donations. Methods include incorporation of Asian American leaders and volunteers to be more culturally competent when working in the community, increased visits to health fairs, and working in close conjunction with A3M – Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches. In addition, they would love to be more involved in not only registering organ donors but also possibly more bone marrow donors. Expanding DoT Org to other University of California campuses, such as UCI, is also a top priority so that even more underrepresented communities can be reached.
For their commitment to expanding organ and tissue donations within minority communities, the UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows have chosen DoT Org as one of the recipients of the Winter 2014 Mongelli Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement.
For more information about how to get involved in DoT Org, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/dotorg.bruins or contact them through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Membership is open to all UCLA students. For more information about the DoT Org, visit http://dotorgatucla.weebly.com/index.html.