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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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New club advocates for youth organ donation registration

Abby Ippen
Sierra Pape (left), James Howard, Meredith Bell, and Lucia Olivera (right) work a table for SODA club in the courtyard during lunch on Valentines Day to help register more organ donors on National Organ Donor Day.

Student Organ Donation Advocates (SODA) is a nonprofit that inspires and supports student-led organ, eye and tissue donation education. This national organization has recently started a new chapter at Midtown.

“SODA is a chapter of a national organization with a mission to educate youth about organ donation at such a critical time when they are signing off to be donors on their driver’s license,” Junior Sierra Pape said. “It is important, life-saving work.”

Pape is the president and the founder of the club at Midtown. She became passionate about organ donation because of her personal experiences.

“I’ve been passionate about organ donation for a long time,” Pape said. “Several years ago, my uncle received a heart transplant and lived many more years. Simultaneously, my minister was on the waitlist and did not receive an organ in time.”

These experiences led Pape to be more interested about organ donation in her everyday life as well. 

“Last year, as I filled out my form for my learner’s permit, it asked ‘Do you want an organ donor displayed on your license?’ and I checked yes,” Pape said. “After returning back to school, I realized most of my friends in high school didn’t know if they signed up to be a donor or not, let alone the true meaning behind the question. I think the mission of SODA to fix this issue is so important and needed.”

Pape’s advocacy and enthusiasm about organ donation and the SODA club inspired Junior Lucia Olivera to join. Although she initially joined the club to support Pape, she soon also became enthusiastic about the cause. 

“[Pape] started a chapter of SODA club at Midtown and was looking for people to join, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to join as it is for a good cause,” Olivera said. 

“I think that SODA club will help inform students at Midtown about the benefits that come with organ donation, along with getting more students to be registered organ donors.”

The club has already started its journey towards organ donation advocacy with an event on National Donor Day which occurred on Feb. 14.

“We had a fantastic first event for National Donor Day in February, where we got nearly 20 people registered and talked to over 200 people,” Pape said. “There are so many people who were jumping to volunteer, and SODA is a fantastically run organization where they give every chapter lots of supplies and resources, so we were able to have a successful event.”

Junior James Howard is also a member of the club and after helping out on National Donor Day with the event, he said he feels excited about the impact the club could have on the school.

“I believe SODA has already and will continue to have an effect on Midtown High School because, during our only event on National Donor Day, we were able to talk to 200 people and get 20 to sign up as organ donors,” Howard said. 

Pape said that the event and all of the work the club is going to do will have a great impact for several reasons. 

“I think every person that we talk to and educate is so important because one deceased donor can save eight lives,” Pape said. “We aren’t trying to force people to be donors, but I think education really can teach people all the benefits of it.”

Olivera also agrees that the SODA club will have an impact at Midtown. 

“I think that SODA club will help inform students at Midtown about the benefits that come with organ donation, along with getting more students to be registered organ donors,” Olivera said.

The SODA club plans to have more meetings throughout the rest of the year to accomplish their goals. 

“We want to have many more meetings where people can get information from experts at the Georgia Organ Procurement Organization, which are the people that head up all organ donation in the state, as well as a meeting where students can meet and speak with donor recipients,” Pape said. 

Howard encourages other students at Midtown to join the club. 

“I think it would be a great idea for more students at Midtown to join the club,” Howard said. “I believe that the club’s message is so important, and the more people we have supporting it and encouraging others to become organ donors, the better.”

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About the Contributor
Abby Ippen
Abby Ippen, Lifestyle Section Editor
Abby Ippen is a third-year staff member and she is excited to contribute to the paper. Outside the paper, she enjoys playing soccer, running, and hanging out with friends.

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    Nicole NideaMar 27, 2024 at 12:32 pm

    We are so proud of Sierra, Lucia, James, and the rest of SODA at Midtown High School! They are saving and healing lives through their organ, eye, and tissue donation advocacy.