Using the Golden Rule to Save Eight Lives

By: Allison Hydzik

“Do it for others. They’d do it for you.”

That golden rule is the message that the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health think will resonate best with Pittsburgh’s athletic elite – and convince them to sign up to be organ and tissue donors. It’s part of the Making Organ Donors Matter project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration to learn the best way to convince more people to consider donation.


On Friday and Saturday at the GNC Live Well Pittsburgh Health and Fitness Expo before the 2015 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, the group will feature the message at a booth designed to show potential donors just how easy it is to enroll. It’ll be the first of four race events this year where the project will seek to increase organ donation, while learning what works and what doesn’t.  Only 45 percent of Pennsylvania adults are registered as donors.

“We’re looking for messages that really attract people who are into health and fitness, but not registered as organ donors. How do you grab people’s attention so they can discover how easy it is to become a donor?” said Howard B. Degenholtz, Ph.D., associate professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Health Policy & Management. “Our initial research shows two messages do well generally: ‘Save Eight Lives’ and the golden rule. With people interested in health and fitness, the golden rule has the slight edge.”

In the U.S., more than 123,000 men, women and children are waiting for an organ transplant, and 21 people die each day because a donor wasn’t found in time.

“It takes 30 seconds to register as an organ and tissue donor – you do not have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and wait in line. In fact, at our booth, we have it set up so that you can sign up straight from your phone,” added Misty Enos, director of professional services and community outreach for CORE.

As an added bonus, visitors can have fun snapping strips of pictures at the project’s photo booth to post on social media. The group will also visit the GNC Liberty Mile in July, the Great Race Expo in September and the EQT 10-Miler in November, before returning to the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon next May.

In addition to developing outreach messages suited to people interested in health and fitness, the project is exploring different messages for faith-oriented groups and more general events with a broader audience. The results will be shared to make future organ donation awareness events more successful.

CORE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting donation, education and research for the purpose of saving and improving lives through organ, tissue and cornea transplantation. The Department of Health Policy and Management at Pitt Public Health is dedicated to advancing the state of knowledge and enhancing professional practice of healthcare management in both the public and private sectors. To register as an organ and tissue donor in Pennsylvania, visit