This is the perhaps the most developed education program available to high school students.
Co-op Education Program
For the past decade, the Multi-Organ Transplant Program at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has played host and teacher to many students from local high schools. These students, part of a community-based learning program, spend between 5 and 8 hours a week with the Multi-Organ Transplant Program, beginning in September and finishing the following June. Students on a semester schedule can also be accommodated.
This program was originally developed by donor coordinator Mahms Richard-Mohamed in consultation with Rodger Dusky who was a teacher at London Central Secondary School and head of their co-operative program at that time.
Divided into three sections, the students spend an equal amount of time learning about donor issues, recipient issues, and research. They are exposed to the donation process, organ retrieval, and the transplant surgery, including time in the operating room and the Multi-Organ Tansplant Unit. The students work closely with the donor coordinators, but are also exposed to the many faces of the healthcare team involved in organ donation and transplantation.
Staff from Social Work, Psychology, Nutrition, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy and the Histocompatibility Lab offer their expertise as members of the transplant team. Nurses in the Operating Room, the Intensive Care Unit, and the Transplant Unit offer their time to allow the students to watch the process up close. They even have a rare chance to spend time in the Microsurgery/Xenotransplantation Lab and the Molecular Biology Lab, witnessing the latest innovations in transplantation. On a more personal note, the students also have the opportunity to meet several transplant recipients and to talk to a donor family.
The students, however, also give something in return. Following the inaugural year, the pair of co-op students organized an assembly at London Central Secondary School for the senior grades. That assembly included guest speakers, and then a panel discussion afterwards, in an effort to educate their peers about organ donation and transplantation. The co-op students also developed a questionnaire that hoped to shine some light on the attitudes of teenagers towards this often misunderstood topic. The results of the survey, in turn, would aid healthcare workers and teachers in speaking to young people about organ donation and transplantation.
In a subsequent year, four co-op students organized a Transplant Symposium, which was held at our hospital. Almost 200 students attended from four secondary schools in London. The focus of the symposium was to educate teenagers about organ and tissue donation and transplantation, dispelling many of the myths often connected with this topic. Several medical professionals spoke to the students, providing them with the required knowledge to make an informed choice about signing a donor card. Following the informative presentations, the students were divided into working groups and participated in simulated decision-making to determine who should be considered for transplant and who should not. The students get a feel for the difficult decisions that the members of the team face on a daily basis. The co-op students continued with the survey, and organized three assemblies for all senior students at three area secondary schools.
Based on these survey findings, a high school curriculum for grade 11 health and physical education classes was developed. This pilot project, funded by the Kidney Foundation of Canada, was taught at London Central Secondary School during the 2000-2001 school year. Following this pilot, the unit of study became available to all secondary schools in the Thames Valley District School Board and the London Catholic District School Board in September 2001. In 2008, One Life...Many Gifts was revised and expanded to 20 school boards throughout Ontario.
With funding received from the Kidney Foundation of Canada, the Multi-Organ Transplant Program had the vision to develop a unit of study, One Life...Many Gifts, working with both the Thames Valley District School Board and the London Catholic District School Board.This education program about donation and transplantation was first developed in 2000, in response to our co-op students and student surveys. They identified the need for a formal educational experience that answered the many questions of these young adults. The resources included a teacher's guide, video, CD, poster and family discussion brochure. Using real-life case studies, students explore many aspects of donation and transplantation and come to a thorough understanding of the issue. The students invariably discuss donation with their families, thereby reaching a second target audience.
In 2002, the Health Care Public Relations Association of Canada presented the Hygeia Award to the Transplant Program in recognition of outstanding communications in health care. The curriculum resource also received the Ted Freedman Award, which recognizes those who inspire, advocate, and enable education in health care.
In 2008 and 2009, a revised version of One Life...Many Gifts was piloted in 40 school boards throughout Ontario. Funding for this expansion has been provided by the provincial Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. This project would not have been possible without their support or the generosity of an anonymous Ontario resident whose contribution ensures that secondary school students in Ontario understand the life-saving promise of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. In June 2008, the One Life...Many Gifts video received three international Telly awards, which honor the best in videos, web commercials, and film productions. By 2011, the aim is to have One Life...Many Gifts available in every district school board in Ontario. Find out more about this educational program by visiting the website of One Life...Many Gifts.
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