April is National Donate Life Month to help raise awareness for the critical need for organ, tissue, marrow and blood donation. A special awareness day will be held on the Virginia Tech campus on April 23.

LifeNet, a non-profit agency that handles organ and tissue donation in Virginia, will join the Virginia Tech chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) to promote this day around campus by using displays, brochures, fliers, and raffles to call attention to how people can save lives through organ donation.

Representatives from PRSSA will be in Brush Mountain A in Squires Student Center where registration, informational packets, and raffle tickets will be available to students. There will also be people distributing flyers on the drill field.

"Organ Donor Awareness Day is an important day to make the public aware of organ donation," said Zoe Mathias, Vice President of Community Service of PRSSA. "Registering to become a donor is a selfless act that could save many lives."

Joseph G. Leotta, a Virginia Tech student who died last March on Washington Street, was an organ donor. He became an organ donor just two weeks before his death. Due to his courageous gift, four people are alive today.

"It is very important for families to talk to one another about being an organ donor," said Joan Leotta, mother of Joseph G. Leotta. "Make sure that all family members know that you have chosen to be a donor, why it is important to you and what organs you want to donate. This may seem like a strange topic for family chatter, but you never know when it may be necessary that your wishes on this subject be known by those closest to you."

Leotta works closely on a regular basis with LifeNet to help increase organ donor awareness by talking to students and families about her son's incredible story. Leotta has created bookmarks with her son's story that will be distributed to students around campus.

To be an organ and tissue donor in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you need to document your wish on your diver's license or sign a donor card.

For more information about Organ Donor Awareness Day and LifeNet, please contact Jack McCarthy at jack_mccarthy@lifenet.org or at (540)342-7133, ext. 324.

Written by Meredith Long, University Relations Intern

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