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How this Chilean University is Promoting Science Education in the Local Community

How this Chilean University is Promoting Science Education in the Local Community main image

Sponsored by Universidad Autónoma de Chile

Since 2008, approximately 100,800 organ transplants are performed every year according to data from the World Health Organization. However each year hundreds of thousands of people still die waiting for an organ transplant as the demand for donated organs significantly outweighs the number of donors.

To help tackle this shortage, many countries around the world including Chile have either already introduced, or are introducing, an opt-out organ donation policy as opposed to an opt-in policy.

The opt-out organ donation policy means individuals are automatically on the organ donation list and would need to withdraw their consent should they not want to be a donor, as opposed to the opt-in policy which means individuals need to sign up in order to give their consent.

Despite this move, the gap between signed up donators and those in need of a donation is still very large as a result of miscommunication and misunderstanding of the life-changing issue.

In a bid to help change that, a set of researchers at the Science Communication Center at Universidad Autónoma de Chile have developed a children’s book called Luciano and His Shining Star Backpack. We spoke with them to find out more.

‘Luciano and His Shining Star Backpack’

Using colorful illustrations, metaphors and fun-loving characters, Luciano and His Shining Star Backpack aims to open up the conversation of organ donation among families. Written by Alejandra Santana and Claudia González, the book is also available for free download.

“This book is one of a series that the Science Communication Center has been developing as the researchers need to get their research out there,” said Iván Suazo, Vice Chancellor of Research and Graduate Studies.

“What they [the researchers] were trying to do, was to deal with a problem that is a problem on a national level because in Chile organ donation rates have been going down over the past few years.

“The Chilean government is also trying to improve the numbers, so this book is a way for our researchers to support this,” he added.

Although the number of organ donors is dwindling in some countries such as Chile, an article published by the BBC in 2017 reported a correlation between countries which have opt-out organ donation schemes and countries with a high number of organ donators.

Therefore the need for accurate and transparent information about organ donation is paramount. One donor can save and transform up to nine lives as their heart, kidney, pancreas, lungs, intestines, liver, corneas, bones, skin, nerve, heart valves and tissue can all be donated.

Educating the local community and beyond

On a daily basis, researchers at the Science Communication Center are working hard to bring science to life and to find new and exciting ways to promote it to the wider public through initiatives such as this book.

“Knowledge should not stay just inside the laboratory of the university, but it should really go out there into the public,” said Suazo.

“That is the mission of the Science Communication Center – not only have they created this book, but they’ve also made infographics, given talks at schools, they even have a cool group of researchers that do stand-up comedy regarding science."

The Science Communication Center at Universidad Autónoma de Chile has been running for two years and is the second of its kind in the country. The center came about thanks to a vice lecturer for research who saw a gap between the research that was being carried out in the university and what research was being broadcasted to the general public. 

When it comes to raising awareness of organ donation as well as debunking the myths surrounding it, Luciano and His Shining Star Backpack is just one of the Science Communication Center’s many products and services which aims to educate the community on its research findings in a simple and easy to understand format.

Suazo said: “The book was very well received by different charities related to organ donation as we’ve been contacted by them to work on themes and additional campaigns.”

With charities and research centers such as the Science Communication Center at Universidad Autónoma de Chile working together on campaigns such as this one, it’s hoped that the message and understanding of organ donation is only positive and can be considered a live changing gift for those in need of a transplant.

This is why it’s also incredibly important for friends and families to be honest with one another when it comes to being an organ donor so there’s no doubt about your intentions and wishes. Although your family and friends cannot veto your decision to be a donor once you are on the organ donation register it can make the process easier for everyone involved.

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Written by Stephanie Lukins
As the sponsored content writer for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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