BATON ROUGE, La. – A couple of LSU men’s tennis players recently registered to become organ donors for Louisiana to support the ever-growing demand for organ transplants.
Sophomore Harrison Kennedy and freshman Justin Butsch partnered with PRecision PR, a student organization from Dr. Jinx Broussard’s PR Campaigns class, to help spread awareness of the importance of signing up to become organ donors.
“The students in my public relations course have done an incredible job this semester of both creating awareness of the need for organ donation and of signing up new donors,” Broussard said. “My goal each semester is for students to gain practical experience that complements the academic component of the course by working with real clients to address a community need, problem or issue.”
PRecision PR is a group of seven students from the Manship School of Mass Communication that partnered with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) at the start of the fall semester. With the help of these student-athletes, PRecision PR has already surpassed their goal they set at the start of the semester to get at least 105 people to become organ donors before the semester ended.
“It is our wish that more and more folks learn the facts about organ, eye and tissue donation,” LOPA Community Educator Lori Steele said. “Student-athletes are natural role models on any campus. The fact that these LSU athletes are taking the lead in this important life-saving mission says a lot about who they are off-campus – heroes!”
“When I was approached about becoming an organ donor, I didn’t think twice about putting my name down,” Kennedy said. “If something unfortunate happens to me and I no longer need my organs, I would much rather them be used for the betterment of another person’s life.”
In addition to the two student-athletes that signed up, Seth Guilbeau, a junior in his third year as the tennis team’s student manager also registered to become an organ donor.
“The reason I think organ donation is so important is because everyday people are dying due to organ failure and the list grows larger every day, so I wanted to be able to help save as many lives as I could if something should happen to me,” Guilbeau said.
With a grandfather currently suffering from kidney failure, Guilbeau said, “Seeing him suffer as he is, I would not wish it on anyone else. So if I no longer had use of my organs and they could save people in need, there would be no greater feeling in the world to know that I was able to help them live a quality life.”
PRecision PR has an additional goal of educating potential donors on the misconceptions that come with organ donation, including the fact that out-of-state residents can register to become organ donors in Louisiana. Neither Kennedy nor Butsch are from Louisiana, but since they will be residents in the state for at least the next six months, they are eligible to become Louisiana organ donors.
Over 115,000 people nationwide are waiting on organ transplants, 1,700 of which are in Louisiana. One donor can potentially save up to nine lives and enhance the lives of up to 61 people.
“It is an important program that benefits so many people in need,” head coach Jeff Brown said. “I am proud of these guys for making the choice to become organ donors and for thinking beyond themselves at such a young age.”
LSU is set to kick off the 2014 dual-match season on Jan. 19 in Houston, Texas, against Rice at noon CT at the George R. Brown Tennis Complex. The Tigers home opener will be on Feb. 8 with a doubleheader starting at noon against North Florida followed by a 5 p.m. match against Liberty at Dub Robinson Stadium.
For up-to-date information and behind-the-scenes access on the Tigers, fans can follow the LSU men's team on Twitter @LSUtennis and Facebook at www.facebook.com/lsutennis, and fans can follow head coach Jeff Brown on Twitter @LSUCoachJBrown.