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FIT to Host Organ Donor Awareness Event

Cheri Fein, executive director, Public and Media Relations
212 217.4700;

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), in partnership with the New York Organ Donor Network, will raise student understanding about how organ donation saves lives at Give Life, the college's first organ donation awareness night on November 8 at 8 pm in the John E. Reeves Great Hall at FIT, Seventh Avenue and 27th Street. The event is free and open to all FIT students, employees, and alumni.

Give Life will feature actor Grizz Chapman, who plays Grizz Griswold on the NBC series 30 Rock and received a kidney from an organ donor three months ago. Jessica Chipkin, a 21-year-old liver transplant survivor, and Kristin Molini, a 23-year-old recipient of a five-organ transplant, will share their stories about how organ donation saved their lives. Julia Rivera, director of communications for the New York Organ Donor Network, will speak, and Celeste Weins, president of the FIT Student Association (FITSA), will host.

Also attending will be fashion designers Gemma Kahng and Alexander Berardi; Fabrizio Carro, a former contestant on Iron Chef and currently the executive chef at Quattro Gastronomia Italiana, located in the Trump SoHo Hotel; and jewelry designer and FIT alumnus Ron Caldwell, who owns the stores Posh Jewelry and Eye Candy.

A raffle will include a styling session valued at $500 with Alexa Winner, a stylist who has worked with designers such as Ralph Lauren and John Galliano and has styled for Vogue Japan. A DJ will provide music, and refreshments will be served.

Give Life is a group project of students in the Principles of Public Relations class, taught by Professor Loretta Volpe. The project is being led by Christina Alibrandi, with the assistance of Karina Abbaj, James Lim, Alicia Moo-Pow, and Sarah Scott Smith, all of whom are Advertising and Marketing Communications majors.

Raising awareness about organ donation is critical in New York, as the state has one of the lowest percentages of registered organ donors in the country—just 13 percent of individuals age 18 and older.

Currently, close to 110,000 people in the United States are waiting for organ transplants.  Approximately 18 people a day die while waiting. Of those waiting, approximately 9,600 people in New York State need life-saving organ transplants. In 2009, there were just 423 deceased organ donors in the entire state, 285 of them in the greater New York metropolitan area.
Research shows that while college students generally are in favor of organ donation, many are not registered. The goal of the Give Life event is to raise understanding about organ donation and the importance of registering as an organ donor.

The Electronic Signature Act, introduced in the New York State legislature by Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried and State Senator Thomas K. Duane, and signed in July by Governor David Paterson, will enable New Yorkers to enroll in the state organ donor registry online. However, before it is implemented, New Yorkers will continue to have to download, fill out, print, and mail a form.

Organ donation by a single individual can save up to eight lives. A donor who additionally is a registered eye and tissue donor can save or improve up to fifty lives.

About FIT
FIT, a leader in career-oriented education, is a selective college of art and design, business and technology of the State University of New York (SUNY), with 46 majors leading to the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees.  The college serves more than 10,000 students and offers courses in a wide range of fields.   

About the New York Organ Donor Network
The New York Donor Network is the federally designated nonprofit organ procurement organization (OPO) in the greater New York area. The Donor Network is responsible for the recovery of organs and tissues for life-saving and quality of life improvement transplants; and education of health care professionals and the public about the importance of organ donation and enrollment on the New York State Donate Life Registry. Its service area covers a culturally and ethnically diverse population of 13 million in the five boroughs of New York City; all of Long Island; Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester counties; in addition to Pike County, PA.  For a free informational brochure and donor registration materials, log on to or call the New York Organ Donor Network at 646-291-4444.