CLEVELAND, Ohio - As the new school year gets underway, students across Ohio will be required to learn about organ and tissue donation before they are eligible to graduate.
Ohio House Bill 438, which was signed into law this past January requires the health curriculum of each school district to include 30 minutes of instruction on the positive effect of organ and tissue donation.
The law isn't intended to require students to become donors, it is intended only to help them make a more informed decision when they are getting their first driver's licenses.
Lifebanc, an organization that works to educate people about the benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation, has already been working with schools across the area including St. Ignatius, Hudson and Solon High School to include the instruction voluntarily.
"It's good news for the community as a whole. We each have the opportunity to save and heal lives, and anytime for us to provide information and education outreach into the community that's our goal for the community to be aware," said Jillian Frazier, the Director of Development and Community Services for Lifebanc.
"It's your first adult decision. Kids kind of learn things from their parents or from schoo.l I think it's really important to give them the facts," said Colleen Gerber, who says she owes her last 12 years to an anonymous kidney donor.
"He didn't have to say yes. His family didn't have to say yes. They could have mourned him and mourned their loss and that would be the end of it. But in their darkest hour, they thought of somebody else and it wasn't only me, it was several other recipients that they actually saved and healed," said Gerber.
The new law started as a classroom project for Emmalyn Brown of Athens, Ohio, who was challenged in school to create a change in her community
Lifebanc says there are 8 common myths about organ donation, including the belief that doctors are less inclined to save a life if they know that a patient is a donor.
"There's a lot of myths and misconceptions out there and the reality is, we work to provide the facts about donation and transplantation out in the community through schools," said Frazier.