Donor Network West, the organ procurement organization that heals lives through organ and tissue donation in northern California and Nevada, and the City of San Francisco have announced a new community health education partnership to bring organ and tissue donation education to high school students. The initiative, backed by Mayor Ed Lee and implemented by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), was announced at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on April 21st during National Donate Life Month.
There are 22,000 awaiting a life-saving transplant in California, of which 7,800 wait at one of three San Francisco Transplant Centers.
Classroom conversations brought home spark discussions, and in this case save lives. The launch of this initiative highlights San Francisco’s commitment to building a culture of donation. At the same time, it meets the shared goal of all partners to encourage conversations within our diverse and multicultural families and communities.
“Knowledge is where change begins and where culture shifts start, and our youth play a big part in this. The collaborative effort between the City, the Department of Public Health, the School District and Donor Network West is made that much stronger by this shared vision,” says Cindy Siljestrom, CEO of Donor Network West.
As part of the initiative, Donor Network West will collaborate with the SFDPH to provide Health Education and Professional Development Teams with resources to begin implementing organ and tissue donation information into programming for high school health and science classes. They will also provide in-service education to SFUSD Safety and Wellness staff. Additionally, high schools will receive organ and tissue donation education materials for posting in school Wellness Centers, reaching 60% of students. The educational initiative will also extend beyond high schools to reach the city’s diverse community health clinics.
“By joining forces with San Francisco schools and Donor Network West, we can improve education and awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation,” said Barbara Garcia, San Francisco Director of Health. “We know that disparities in organ transplantation particularly affect Asians, African Americans, Latinos and American Indians. Reaching the youth in those communities is an important step to increasing donations that save lives.”
In celebration of the initiative launch, and in honor of National Blue and Green Day during National Donate Life Month, the iconic City Hall building in San Francisco lit up in blue and green on April 21 as a symbol of the city’s support of organ, eye and tissue donation. Transplant recipients, donor families, hospital partners and community members were invited to witness the moment of lighting around sunset.