Pleasant Valley students promote organ donation, win awards


Students from Pleasant Valley High School took top honors in a poster and essay contest promoting organ and tissue donation through Gift of Life donor program’s Lehigh Valley Coalition for Organ and Tissue Donation.

The contest is held annually on behalf of more than 6,200 patients awaiting a life-saving transplant in the region.

“An average of 21 people die each day because an organ was not available for transplant, but one donor can save eight lives,” wrote Isanny Rosario of Brodheadsville in her essay that won first place. Rosario’s essay encourages teenagers to register as organ donors when they get their driver’s license.

Other Pleasant Valley High School winners are: Justina Hnatowicz, first place in the poster contest’s high school division, and Kacey Burrus, third place in the essay contest.

All three winners are students of science teacher Shannon Mackes.

Nearly 50 essays and more than 100 posters were judged by local writers and artists.

Coalition volunteers and contest organizers Mark Richardson and Fred Jerant presented awards to the winners on April 16 at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem. Richardson and Jerant are both organ transplant recipients.

More than 400 Pennsylvanians die each year awaiting a life-saving transplant. About 46 percent of residents with a driver’s license are registered as organ donors. Drivers do not have to wait until their license is up for renewal to register; they can register any time online via Gift of Life’s website at

Gift of Life, based in Philadelphia, is the organ donor program for eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 37,000 life-saving organ transplants and over 550,000 tissue transplants.

Gift of Life’s Lehigh Valley Coalition is open to anyone interested in promoting organ and tissue donation including transplant recipients, donor family members, living donors and transplant candidates. The group meets on the second Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Northeast Pa. Lions Eye Bank in Bethlehem. For more information, contact Regional Community Relations Coordinator Susan Koomar at or call 267-421-7958.


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