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Organ Donation Activist Makes History at RCC

Organ Donation Activist Makes History at RCC

Roxanne Watson, left, with RCC student Priya Greg. Greg was the 10,000th organ donor signed up by Watson, a number believed to be a world record.

DATE: September 13, 2017

Roxanne Watson the first to sign up 10,000 organ donors


RAMAPO – Roxanne Watson could be seen as a perfect example of how one person can make a huge difference on an important issue. But Watson believes that it takes a village—or more precisely in her case, it takes a college.

Watson made history on Wednesday as she signed up her 10,000th organ donor, becoming the first person to ever reach that number. It was fitting that Watson achieved the milestone on the campus of Rockland Community College, which has played such a key role in her efforts. Watson estimates that she has signed up nearly half of her donors on the RCC campus.

Her 10,000th signee was another RCC student, Priya Greg, whom Watson approached while Greg was walking through the Student Union Wednesday morning. The second-year student from Spring Valley initially demurred, but returned a few minutes later to fill out the donor form, and was stunned to end up in front of television cameras being interviewed about the milestone.

A number of prominent local political figures came to celebrate with Watson, including State Senator David Carlucci, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee and Rockland County Legislative Chairman Toney Earl. Congresswoman Nita Lowey also sent a representative.

RCC has the highest percentage of organ donors of any college in the State of New York system, a source of great pride for Watson, who graduated from RCC’s prestigious Honors Program in 1987. “This place is awesome,” she exclaimed, as she continued to recruit new donors after achieving the milestone. Watson added another 40 names to her list on Wednesday, including one of the reporters who came to interview her.

Watson is so persuasive in part due to her personality, but also because of her own story. In 2010, she received a heart transplant that saved her life after spending two agonizing years on the waiting list. While still recuperating from surgery, she decided to dedicate herself to the cause of organ donation.

The Nanuet resident also became a constant presence on the RCC campus. “I started attending events shortly after my transplant,” she said. “A couple of years later, I decided I wanted to start taking classes.” Watson has been a part-time student ever since, taking nearly every culinary class the College offers.

She also takes part in numerous activities at RCC while signing up more donors. In 2016, Watson found a new vehicle—literally—for her cause, when she persuaded the Idaho Potato Commission to send its Big Idaho Potato Truck to Rockland County. The event was such a big hit that the Potato Truck returned to RCC this spring, even though the group normally avoids repeat visits.

With the 10,000-donor milestone now under her belt, Watson has no intention of slowing down. She says her next goal is to reach 15,000 organ donors, and based on her track record, there’s no reason to believe she won’t get there.