Student Organ Donation Advocates to host NASCAR driver for first campuswide

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Friendswood junior Ron Varghese serves as president of the Baylor chapter of SODA. Photo courtesy of Ron Varghese

By Shelby Peck | Copy Editor

The Baylor chapter of Student Organ Donation Advocates is hosting its first campuswide event on Thursday to bring awareness to the country’s drastic need for organ donors and to raise interest in the organization.

The event, “Handprints for Hope,” will feature a meet-and-greet with NASCAR driver Joey Gase as well as the unveiling of the Donate Life Texas NASCAR.

“[Gase’s] mother was an organ donor, and she passed away when he was 18,” Ron Varghese, Friendswood junior and president of Baylor SODA, said. “Something that comforts him is knowing that part of his mom is living in other people. … He’s able to go to bed knowing that people are breathing easier because of his mom after becoming a donor.”

The event, which is open to the public, will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday in Lots 2 and 3 at McLane Stadium. Attending organ donors and recipients will be able to put their handprints on the Donate Life Texas NASCAR, symbolizing the name of the event, “Handprints for Hope.”

“The whole event [is] just being like a celebration of life and celebration about organ donation,” Varghese said. “I think we’re very blessed that this is the first event we’re able to do as an upcoming association, and we look forward to putting on more events with our sponsors.”

Varghese’s journey with organ donation advocacy began eight years ago, when his father had critical liver failure caused by primary sclerosing cholangitis and needed a liver transplant to live. His father shared an ICU room with two other patients: a schoolteacher and a firefighter. In what Varghese described as a “miracle,” his father received a donation. However, his two roommates were unable to receive donations and died.

Varghese said the incident “opened his eyes” to the drastic need for organ donors.

“At any given moment, there’s about 100,000 people that are on the waitlist for an organ, and meanwhile, only 20,000 donor organs are supplied,” Varghese said. “So that’s a ratio of five people waiting for one organ, so there’s a huge shortage that’s going on nationally.”

A combination of his personal story and the realization that there were no organ donation advocacy groups at Baylor drove Varghese to start a local chapter of SODA.

“Now, it’s easier than ever to register as a deceased organ donor, meaning that instead of going to the DMV and filling out a lot of paperwork, now you can register on your phone,” Varghese said. “You can say what you want to donate, what specific organs, who you want to donate to, and you can remove yourself from the registry anytime, free of cost.”

Varghese said SODA focuses on educating the Baylor community about common misconceptions and concerns regarding organ donation.

“Skepticism is definitely very valid and reasonable,…

Read More: Student Organ Donation Advocates to host NASCAR driver for first campuswide 2023-09-19 03:54:01

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