Ribbons such as this one signify Donate Life Month and are placed throught the county during April. (Photo by Laurie Gordon)
By Laurie Gordon There are 39 individuals awaiting organ transplant in Sussex County, and statewide, nearly 4,000 residents await transplants. NJ Sharing Network (NJSN) volunteers are raising awareness that organ and tissue donation is important nationally, but also locally, by hanging green and blue ribbons with information tags, throughout the county, The ribbons line Main Street, in Newton, Main Street, in Sparta, and line thoroughfare in Branchville throughout April, which is Donate Life Month. “Organ and tissue donation offers many ways to give hope, support and strength to patients waiting, recipients and donor families,” said Sparta resident, Kelly Bonventre, the Hospital Services Manager for the NJ Sharing Network. “We each carry the potential to help make life better for others by registering as a donor, considering living donation, being a caregiver and championing the cause.” National Donate Life Month was established by Donate Life America and its partnering organizations in 2003. Donate Life Month features local, regional and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation. “We hope to make people aware of NJSN and the importance of organ and tissue donation by doing these various events throughout the County,” Bonventre said. NJSN volunteers, some of whom are donor family members, transplant recipients, or living donors, will be available at information tables that will have organ and tissue donation educational materials, information on how to register to be a donor, and NJSN giveaway items; pens, green bracelets, etc., on April 12, 15, 16 and 17. In addition, trained volunteers will conduct the High School Heroes Program all day at Sparta High School on April 12th. Passed in 2008, the NJ Hero Act requires all publicly educated and first-year nursing students to be educated about organ and tissue donation “Our 'You’ve Got the Power' program meets those requirements and is offered free of charge to all NJ high schools,” Bonventre said. “The program is designed to educate students about organ and tissue donation so they can make an informed decision when given the option to be an organ donor when they get their driver’s license.” Special pizza boxes supporting the #SaveNJLives campaign will be used by Villa Capri, in Sparta, and Newton Pizza, in Newton, during the entire month of April, and special coffee sleeves also supporting the #SaveNJLves campaign will be used by numerous coffee houses and other locations throughout Sussex County during April. The NJ Sharing Network has received proclamations supporting organ and tissue donation and recognizing April as National Donate Life Month from the Sparta Town Council, the Newton Town Council and the Branchville Town Council. The NJSN is the non-profit organization responsible for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue for those in need of a life-saving transplant. The Network is also part of the national recovery system, which is in place for the 115,000 people on the national waiting list. The NJ Sharing Network operates 24/7/365 with a team of more than 150 highly trained staff members. Its Governing and Foundation Boards consist of a diverse group of individuals from both public and private sectors, across a variety of disciplines, and many of whom have been touched by donation For further information about NJSN, or to become an organ donor, visit www.njsharingnetwork.org. One can also become a donor through your local Division of Motor Vehicles.