In observance of National Donate Life Month, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. urges every New Jersey family to discuss organ donation and to consider giving this gift to others by signing a donor card and informing their families of their wishes.
“Many New Jerseyans are currently awaiting a life-saving transplant. Spring is the season of renewal. By signing a donor card, one individual has the potential to impact several lives,” said Dr. Lacy. “New Jersey residents should also consider donating blood to maintain the available supply.’’
A shortage of organs always exists because waiting list growth outpaces available donors. Approximately 84,000 people are now waiting for organs nationwide, including 2,824 New Jerseyans. Last year, nearly 6,000 people nationwide -- including 152 in New Jersey -- died while waiting for a donor organ.
“A desperate need exists for more organ and tissue donors in the state as well as the nation,” said Joseph Roth, president and chief executive officer of The New Jersey Organ and Tissue Sharing Network, the Springfield-based, non-profit organ recovery agency serving North and Central New Jersey and the City of Camden.
“Tens of thousands of people nationwide are waiting for a life-saving transplant, including those in our own state. The number of people waiting will go down only if the number of people agreeing to donate goes up,” Roth said.
Some 25,448 transplants were performed in the U.S. last year, including more than 500 in New Jersey. Six New Jersey hospitals are approved to perform solid organ transplants such as heart, kidney, liver and pancreas.
Lack of donor organs significantly impacts New Jersey’s most vulnerable populations. “The shortage of donor organs is particularly acute in minority communities, where people are disproportionately affected by diseases that can lead to organ failure,” said Dr. Lacy. “While the Department is working on prevention and care for diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases to minimize organ failure, it is vitally important that suitable donor organs be available when needed.’’
"We are proud of the residents of New Jersey and their spirit of giving. Their generosity continues to give hope to so many others who still await a life-saving transplant," said Howard M. Nathan, president and chief executive officer of Gift of Life Donor Program, the Philadelphia-based agency which serves Southern New Jersey. "We thank the families of donors in our region who have carried out their loved one's wishes and have given so many a second chance at life.”
As well as providing solid organs such as heart, kidney, liver and pancreas, donors also provide tissues including cornea, bone and skin.
If you are interested in becoming a donor, discuss the issue with family members. Then sign and carry an organ donor card or indicate your decision on your driver’s license. New Jersey residents may also choose to join the Sharing Network’s New Jersey Organ and Tissue Donor Registry.
For more information on becoming an organ donor, contact the Sharing Network at
1-800-SHARE-NJ or the Gift of Life at 215-557-8090 or 1-800-DONORS-1. For additional information, visit www.sharenj.org or www.donors1.org.
Those interested in donating blood, should call one of the centers listed below.
American Red Cross/Penn Jersey Region
Bergen Community Blood CenterLinwood Avenue
Paramus, New Jersey 07652
Blood Center of New JerseySouth Grove Street
East Orange, New Jersey 07018
Central Jersey Blood CenterSycamore Avenue
Shrewsbury, New Jersey 07702
Community Blood Council of New JerseyParkside Avenue
Ewing, New Jersey 08638
NBAH Blood Center
Clinical Academic Building
125 Paterson Street
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
Miller Keystone Blood CenterValley Center Parkway
Bethlehem, PA 18017
New Jersey Blood Services/ New York Blood Center Division
167 New Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901