Give the gift of life: Become an organ donor
New Jersey has 4,000 people waiting for a life-saving transplant.
Not only do they need a tissue or organ donation, they also need a message of hope, says Alyssa D'Addio, director of hospital and community services for the NJ Sharing Network.
Every three days, a person in New Jersey dies waiting for a transplant. Just one organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 people.
Transplantable organs include heart, kidneys, liver, lung, pancreas and intestine. Transplantable tissues include corneas, heart valves, skin grafts and bone grafts, ligament and tendons.
The organization's message of hope was inspired by a garden scene their headquarters in New Providence. It's a place where the staff can go and reflect on what they're doing and the impact that they're making together. D'Addio said when you look at the flowers and the bugs, they are signs of hope.
"It's all a sign for the future and even in the pandemic and in organ donation, we're all hoping for hope," she said.
April 16 is National Blue and Green Day. D'Addio is encouraging all New Jerseyans to wear blue and green, post their picture to social media and tag @NJSharingNetwork.
Then on April 30, it's Facebook Live Donor Remembrance Day at 5 p.m. A live video will be streamed to say thank you to those who gave the gift of life.
Last year was a record breaking year for organ donation in New Jersey despite the challenges of the pandemic.
"I think that says a lot about New Jersey residents and the gift of life and the generosity; the fact they want to give, they want to help," said D'Addio.
In 2020, there were 222 organ donors in New Jersey. This year is on pace to surpass 2020's record. In the first quarter of this year, 161 lives have been saved. Hundreds more have had their lives restored through tissue donation.
New Jersey 101.5 traffic reporter Bob Williams received a kidney transplant in February 2019. He said if it wasn't for his living donor, Kim Roumes, of Roxbury, he wouldn't be here today. He described her as a selfless, caring woman, who is a true inspiration.
Williams said because he was given a second chance at life, he's going to make the most of it and promises to spend his days spreading awareness about the benefits of organ donation to everyone else.
Williams said he was completely humbled and excited leading up to the surgery. But he said he still can't believe that someone gave him a kidney so he could live.
"I think the issue has always been regarding organ and tissue donation is that people are just not informed or they have a lot of questions. As a recipient, I would suggest you educate yourselves on the different ways to save someone's life. Donation awareness could possibly become an inspiration to you. That, in turn, could become someone's miracle because there are a lot of people out there who are in dire need of a miracle," said Williams.