Transplant recipients share their story with Marymount Manhattan Student Chapter

By Zane Younger, Marymount Manhattan College

On May 2, 2016, the ASBMB Student Chapter of Marymount Manhattan College (MMC) hosted an organ donation event in which students were encouraged to enroll as organ donors in the state of New York and informed on the facts of organ donation. This was the second organ donation awareness event supported by an ASBMB Outreach Grant, awarded to the MMC Student Chapter. To add a humanistic perspective on what can sound like a phlegmatic topic, we also organized two transplant recipients, James Martin and Kevin Robberson, to speak about their personal experience. Students and faculty audience members heard their personal stories and got answers to commonly-asked questions.

Transplant recipients share their stories with the MMC ASBMB Student Chapter

James Martin, a retired MMC Art faculty member, spoke first. After noticing his eyesight was failing, he was diagnosed with Fuchs’ dystrophy, a slowly progressing disease of the cornea. As an artist, the impending loss of his eyesight spelled the loss of his career and passion. However, thanks to generous organ donors, he received two new corneas. He spoke of his experience with lighthearted whimsy and warm humor, which granted the audience ease to ask questions.

The second speaker was Kevin Roberson, the recipient of a double lung transplant. Mr. Roberson suffered from sarcoidosis and pulmonary hypertension, conditions which required him to travel with an oxygen tank at all times. He spoke about the shock he experienced upon finally getting matched with a donor set of lungs and how incredible it was to live life again without an oxygen tank. His barber even asked him where his “girlfriend” was upon seeing him for the first time – referring to the tank.

It was exciting to see a wide range of students from different majors attend and fully participate in this event. The panel was personable and charismatic, and the students responded well to them. Myths about organ donation were dispelled and questions about wait lists and surgeries were answered. The event closed with Mr. Roberson asking the audience who was registered as an organ donor- and every student present raised their hand. All in all, a successful and eye-opening event.

About the author: Zane Younger is a senior Biology major graduating from Marymount Manhattan College in May 2016. He is applying to both medical schools and physician assistant programs for Fall 2017.

You can read more about Marymount Manhattan College’s Student Chapter and its organ donor outreach events in ASBMB Today.

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