For students interested in health and medicine at Oklahoma's Putnam
City High School, career planning is literally a life-or-death
Seven students wear pagers so they can be summoned at any moment by an area hospital to observe doctors removing organs for donations.
"I know I want to be a surgeon," said Lindsay Davis, one of the students selected this semester for Transplant 2000. The program is designed to allow students to observe firsthand the complete organ-donation process—from speaking to the donor's family to the actual extraction of the organs.
"The students learn so much about physiology and anatomy early on here that this mentoring program is an exciting way to get [them] involved," said Linda Bowling, a health-sciences teacher at the 1,800-student high school in Oklahoma City.
Members of the Oklahoma Organ Sharing Network and Integris Baptist Medical Center's Zuhdi Transplantation Institute in Oklahoma City work closely with the students and their parents to prepare them for the demanding and emotionally charged donation process.
Ms. Davis and Lynzee Pafford, both seniors, are so far the only two students who have gone through every stage.
Ms. Pafford said the organ donor she observed had been in a car accident. For more than 12 hours, she watched the testing procedures, contacts with the donor's family, and the surgery to remove the organs, including the eyes, liver, and heart. She said she felt prepared for everything and plans to continue studying subjects related to medicine when she attends college next year, either at Oklahoma University in Norman, Okla., or McPherson College in McPherson, Kan.
Ms. Davis, the future surgeon, said the experience had increased her support for organ donation. "I always checked the [donor] box on my license, but now I've seen how important it is to help another life," she said.
Vol. 19, Issue 30, Page 3