Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



Research Hypothesis: A targeted informational awareness program about organ and tissue donation to senior citizens (age >65 years) in Montgomery County, Ohio will produce an increase in the number of registered organ donors in the Ohio Donor Registry, hence, allowing more available organs for transplant for aging patients (50 years of age or older) in need across the region. Subsequently, another research objective is to identify and address underlying factors causing senior citizens to be the lowest number of registered donors in Montgomery County, Ohio, in fact, across the state. This information will assist in future public education efforts of organ and tissue donation when targeting the “baby boomer” population into senior citizenship.

Summary Background Data: The number one problem in transplantation today is the critical shortage of organ availability. Approximately 98,000 patients in the U.S. are registered on the National Transplant Waiting List to receive the gift of life. The organ shortage is partially attributed to the lack of legal designations to be an organ donor on the part of each citizen in Ohio, as well as, the rest of the nation. On July 1, 2002, Ohio activated new legislation for designating an individual’s decision to be an organ donor at the time of his or her death. The “Ohio Donor Registry (ODR)” is a first person consent law which is intended to honor the decision of a legal adult (>18 years old, mentally competent, holding a valid driver’s license or state identification card and social security number) who wishes upon their death to donate organs, tissues, and/or corneas without the need for family consent; thus, easing the burden on the family at such a devastating time, that being the loss of a loved one. Perhaps the organ shortage could be aided by an increase in the general population’s registration in the ODR, particularly the lowest numbered group of registrants, age greater than or equal to 65 years.

Methods: Through a project called “Seniors for Organ Donation Awareness (SODA)”, targeting 6 of 16 senior citizens centers of Montgomery County, Ohio, it is hoped that outreach and education will aid the disparity of older registrants in the Ohio Donor Registry. A one hour presentation will be scheduled and provided to the 6 senior centers at no cost. Pre and Post presentation Knowledge Assessment Surveys will be completed by attendees to measure the effectiveness of the presentation’s content and to ascertain if the information (including personal testimony from a local donation/transplantation volunteer) is enough to motivate attendees to move into the action phase of decision making by registering to be a donor. Educational literature will be created and distributed to the senior centers and, also, utilized during the on-site presentation. Individuals not registering the day of the presentation will have the option to mail in the registration to the SODA preceptor up to two weeks post the day of the event. After receiving these registrations and collecting the data, the preceptor will send the registrations on to the State BMV in Columbus, OH in order for the donor designations to become active in the Ohio Donor Registry database.

Results: The highest score possible on the Pre and Post Knowledge Assessment Surveys knowledge based question portion was 8; one point for each right answer. Knowledge scores were summed by the project preceptor and recorded for each participant. For this sample set, using a two tailed t-Test: Paired Two Sample for Means with a level of significance at alpha = 0.05, results give a p-value of 0.009764. This is strongly significant; post presentation Knowledge Assessment Survey scores were significantly higher than the pre presentation Knowledge Assessment Survey scores. This indicates that learning took place by those attending the SODA presentation. This means that educational opportunities in the area of organ and tissue donation for senior citizens does make a difference and could result in an increase of available organs for transplant from expanded criteria donors. The six new registrants in the Ohio Donor Registry as a result of the SODA project are not reflected in the data from the State of Ohio’s reports. The 4.92% registration rate from the SODA project is independent and reflects that the implementation of the project could be successful in increasing the overall registration rate for the state.

Conclusions: As for the surveys, the return rate of 25.61% is high enough to suggest that the results could be indicative of the entire senior citizen population of Montgomery County, OH. The statistical results gathered from the survey knowledge scores suggest that education and outreach to seniors is definitely warranted and can be effective in increasing this age group’s donor designations in the Ohio Donor Registry. As a result of the SODA project, 6 new donors (meaning: not currently registered as of last license/state identification card renewal period) were added to the Ohio Donor Registry.