Tag: organ donation

The below post originally appeared on The Source.

A campus classroom may seem like an odd spot to consider organ donation. But trust Sara Miller when she tells you it is better than a hospital waiting room. That’s where she and her family made the decision eight years ago to donate the liver of Miller’s older sister, Laura, who had been declared brain-dead days after being diagnosed with cancer at age 14.

“The hospital is the worst place to have these discussions,” the senior told classmates during the fall meeting of Student Organ Donation Advocates (SODA). “That’s why I helped create this organization. I wanted to bring light to the importance of organ donation so that when others have to make a decision—whether it’s a yes or a no—they are making it from a point of clarity and education.”

Miller is one of about 300 students who will participate in the December Degree Candidate Recognition Ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 2, in the Athletic Complex. She will graduate with a degree in health-care management from Olin Business School.

Miller arrived at the university eager to join a club that promotes organ donation. When she learned that no such organization existed, she started one herself, with the help of two upperclassmen and the support of the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement.

Since then, she has trained 50 volunteers and hosted more than 30 events, including registration drives, conversations with bioethicists, panels with transplant surgeons and events with donors and recipients.

Sara Miller and Trish O’Neill present at a recent Student Organ Donation Advocates (SODA) meeting.

At a meeting this fall, Miller welcomed a very special organ recipient: Trish O’Neill, the schoolteacher who received Laura’s liver. They told students the story of their friendship and dispelled some of the myths surrounding organ donation, such as that certain faiths reject organ donation and that potential donors do not receive the same lifesaving measures as nondonors.

When a classmate asked Miller if her family experienced any unexpected consequences, she did not hesitate.

“The biggest surprise for us is how organ donation has helped us heal and to recover more fully,” Miller told the audience. “And then there is the gift of Trish’s friendship. We like to joke that we would be friends with her even if she didn’t have my sister’s liver.”

After graduation, Miller plans to work in health-care management, where she hopes to focus on the patient experience. Fellow leaders will continue SODA’s mission at Washington University. Miller will stay involved with SODA, too, guiding the expansion of SODA to Marquette University, in her hometown of Milwaukee.

“I am proud that SODA has created a dialogue about organ donation on campus,” Miller said. “I came here knowing this is what I wanted to do. WashU gave me the leadership skills and the support I needed to make it happen.”

Video by Tom Malkowicz

Sara Miller, BSBA’18, has been named to the Her Campus list of the most ambitious, talented and forward-thinking college women for her work in encouraging organ donation among college students. Sara is founder of SODA, Student Organ Donation Advocates.  Sara is majoring in health care management, and knows firsthand the power of transplants. Her sister Laura died when she was 14 of a brain tumor, and Laura’s liver saved the life of a teacher in New York.

The greatest tragedy of my life has fueled my passion to save lives. When I was 12-years-old, my older sister, Laura, passed away suddenly from a cancerous brain tumor. Her liver, which our family agreed to donate, saved a woman’s life in New York; that woman’s name is Trish. The devastating loss of Laura, combined with the miraculous story of her having saved a life, has motivated me to advocate on behalf of organ donation, and hopefully save more lives. Founding SODA and empowering others to share their passion for donation has helped me find meaning in an otherwise senseless loss. By leading an effort to mobilize passionate students, I can be part of a life-saving movement, and at the same time show others that even through the darkest times, one can find hope.

SODA organ donationThe Her Campus profile of Sara states, “Sara has created a huge on-campus conversation that sharing is caring. And by sharing, we mean blood, bone marrow and organs. A literal lifesaver, Sara is determined to spread the word about organ donation to the college generation; and, we have to say, she’s done a pretty unbelievable job so far.”

Her Campus, the college media and marketing website culled through over 1,000 powerful nominations and conducted interviews with many incredible applicants to narrow their list down to 22 Under 22 Most Inspiring College Women.

“The level of talent we saw among the nominations made the selection process incredibly difficult,” said Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, Co-founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus. “But we could not be more in awe of the truly aspirational group at which we have arrived.”

Nominees were evaluated based on a mix of criteria including leadership experience, academic excellence, demonstrated passion for their cause, and ambitious goals for their future. The variety in the final list is astounding—from advocating for transgender rights, to founding nonprofits, to leading the way for future generations of women in engineering.

#OlinKudos, Sara!

Source: Her Campus News Release