Raising awareness about the importance of organ donation, Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd is encouraging residents to learn more about giving the gift of life and registering to become organ donors. Governor Christie signed a proclamation declaring April as National Donate Life Month in the Garden State.
"There are nearly 5,000 New Jersey residents waiting for a life-saving organ transplant," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "One donated organ may save up to 8 lives. With more than 120,000 men, women and children nationwide on the donor waiting list, the need could not be greater. So I would encourage residents to take action, register and give the gift of life."
The public can support the issue of organ donation by participating in National Blue and Green Day on Friday April 11. Participants can show off their Blue and Green by submitting photos to the Donate Life America Facebook page. More information can be found at http://donatelife.net/BlueGreen2014/.
Currently there are 2.3 million New Jersey residents registered to be organ donors. More donors are needed to help save those waiting for transplants. In 2013, 519 organ transplants took place at New Jersey's transplant centers, while nearly 29,000 transplants took place nationally.
In 2012, Governor Christie signed legislation requiring that the state disseminate organ and tissue donation information to state employees reminding them of the need for organ donations. The law also calls upon the Department of Treasury to encourage all businesses with state contracts to notify their employees of organ donation options.
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) plays a significant role in organ donation registrations and is the largest point of contact for donor registrations in New Jersey.
"While our numbers are up overall, there is still work to be done," said MVC Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.
This month, Martinez will once again visit all 39 motor vehicle agencies to meet with staff and customers to encourage organ donation.
April is also National Minority Health Month. Thirty percent of those on the national waiting list are African American, while18 % are Hispanic and 7% are Asian. Expanding the donor pool to include as many different ethnicities as possible is crucial to saving lives, as those awaiting life-saving transplants are more likely to receive transplants if more people from all backgrounds donate.
Minority and multicultural populations are more frequently affected by some diseases that are best treated with transplantation. For example, nationally, blacks are three more likely to suffer from end-stage renal disease than whites.
Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor. Organ donor registration is available at Motor Vehicle Commission agencies or by visiting http://www.nj.gov/mvc/Licenses/organ_donor.htm
Residents can request a paper registration form at 1-800-742-7365. When registering in person, the words "Organ Donor" will appear on New Jersey drivers' licenses or non-driver identification card. When registering online or through paper registration, the designation will appear in the driver's record. Saying "yes" to organ donation is legal consent for donation of organs and tissue for the purpose of transplantation or medical research.