New Providence-based NJ Sharing Network, the nonprofit, federally-designated organ procurement organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue in the state, announced the number of organ donors in a single year surpassed 200 for the first time. In 2019 – 206 generous individuals saved lives through donation, resulting in 601 organs transplanted. An additional 1,139 donors helped heal and improve the quality of life of those in need of tissue and eye transplants.
An increase in awareness about donation, the growth of the state’s donor registry, and advances in transplantation medicine have all contributed to a significant growth in lives saved by donation. Organ transplantation in New Jersey increased by 38% over the last decade, the organization reported. In addition to the 206 deceased organ donors, 173 individuals made the decision to give life as living organ donors last year. Growth is being experienced nationally, with over 36,000 organ transplants performed in the United States in 2019, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
“While every milestone we achieve is notable, exceeding more than 200 organ donors in a single year is worthy of special acknowledgement. We owe this achievement first and foremost to the donors who gave the gift of life, as well as their families. It also speaks to the incredible efforts of our staff to educate and inform the community about the power of organ and tissue donation to save and improve lives,” said Joseph Roth, president and CEO of NJ Sharing Network.
The continued growth of the state’s donor registry is also of note. “Over 2.6 million individuals have said ‘yes’ to donation. The more the donor registry grows, the closer we will be to our ultimate goal – that no one will die while waiting for an organ transplant,” added Roth.
Monmouth County resident, Dawn Burke, 59, is among those whose lives were saved last year through the generosity of an organ donor. After spending almost two years on the waiting list, Dawn received a life-saving lung transplant and has since returned to activities she enjoys, such as gardening, photography and socializing. She will show the world how her life has been transformed since her transplant when she participates in the 2020 Donate Life Transplant Games, taking place July 17-22 in New Jersey. Some 12,000-15,000 people are expected to attend this biennial, multi-sport festival recognizing the success of donation and transplantation and honoring the generosity of donors and their families. The Games, which will be hosted by NJ Sharing Network, are being held in the Tri-State area for the first time, providing the Transplant Games of America the biggest stage ever to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation.
Today, there are nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents awaiting a life-saving transplant. Every day, approximately three people are added to the New Jersey waiting list, and one person dies every three days while waiting for a transplant. One organ donor can save eight lives and one tissue donor can restore health to more than 75 people. New Jersey residents can help save lives by registering as organ and tissue donors, having a conversation with family and friends and getting involved at www.NJSharingNetwork.org.
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