Rhonda Griffin is a Community Education Specialist with the Washington Regional Transplant Community in Virginia. We recently caught up with her and learned how her team uses OrganWise Guy and Gal to teach all age groups how to make good, preventative choices.
OWG: Tell me about your organization and what you do.
Rhonda: Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC) is the federally designated organ, eye and tissue recovery organization for the D.C. metropolitan area, which includes the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland. It is our mission to preserve all options for donation, excel in recovery and placement, and provide care for donors and their families. As a Community Education Specialist for WRTC, I am responsible for providing educational information to the community, which includes all schools from elementary age to colleges/universities.
OWG: How did you find out about the OWG and how does the doll fit into what you do?
Rhonda: We were in need of ‘show and tell’ items that would give younger audiences an idea of what organs look like, how they work and why people need a “replacement”/transplant. I saw a vendor at an event, and they gave me the OWG contact information.
OWG: What are some common misconceptions you find as you’re out in the field teaching?
Rhonda: People aren’t aware that bad health habits could affect their future by causing organ failure and the possibility of needing a replacement organ. I talk about how every 12 minutes a new patient is added to the waiting list for that very reason. And then I am able to teach that nine (9) lives may be saved through organ donation. If someone wants to be a hero and donate organs after death, he or she must have healthy organs to give another person a second chance at life.
OWG: Share one or two of your favorite “success” stories or “ah-ha” moments that you’ve seen as you’re teaching.
Rhonda: When explaining the importance of water to a healthy body, The Kidney Brothers’ arms easily represent how important the ureters are to the bladder and kidney. Describing how the kidney functions leads to the explanation of dialysis and the fact that more people are waiting for kidneys than any other organ. Secondly, when explaining why Windy the Lungs has healthy wings, we can describe how wings move air up and down, just like lungs. As an example, I sometimes have the kids jump in place several times without getting out of breath, unlike a person awaiting a lung transplant who would not be able to do that.
OWG: Who is your personal favorite OWG character and why?
Rhonda: The Kidney Brothers are my favorite OWG characters because of their cool sunglasses and hand attachment that can be pulled apart. That really helps explain the actual size of a kidney, the anatomy and the fact that you can separate them, representing that you can donate one kidney while you are alive and live perfectly fine with just one!