NJ Sharing Network members get the message out about organ donation
on Tuesday, 19 June 2012.
This article originally appeared in the Jersey Journal. To read the full article, click here.
A group of residents in Bayonne and Jersey City share a connection that they call "something good out of bad situations."
Members of the New Jersey Sharing Network work both as a support system for one another, and an advocacy and awareness organization that promotes organ donation. The many Bayonne members in Donate Life Bayonne/Jersey City joined either because they had a loved one who has donated organs, are signed up to be donors themselves, or have been the recipients of donated organs.
"Being part of this group has been so rewarding," said Barbara Kuzminski of Bayonne. "It's not something that people want to always think or talk about, but it's so important. It needs to be discussed."
Kuzminski joined the sharing network after her 20-month-old grandson Jonathon Kuzminski died last year of "severe brain hemorrhaging," and the family decided to donate his organs.
"Once I saw how many people Jonathon saved, I knew that this was a group I wanted to volunteer with. It's such an uplifting experience and it doesn't get any more personal than this," she said.
NJ Sharing Network is a non-profit, federally-certified, state-approved organ procurement organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for the 4,700 New Jersey residents currently awaiting transplantation. It is part of the national recovery system, which is in place for the more than 110,000 people on organ donation waiting lists.
The Network, now in its 25th year, encourages people to sign up online or "check the box" on their driver's licenses to become organ donors.
The Motor Vehicle Commission has seen a tremendous up-tick in donor registry rates in 2012 compared to 2011, said Leonard Freeman, the public relations manager for NJ Sharing Network.
NJ Sharing Network continues to reach New Jerseyans through educational tools and the media to inform them of the option to donate and of the benefits of transplantation.
Additionally, NJ Sharing Network offers a Donor Family Support Division, which provides care during and after a donor family's active hospital experience. The division also addresses unique issues related to consent for organ and tissue donation.
NJ Sharing Network enlists a large base of volunteers through its community outreach program. Volunteers help educate the public about organ donation and transplantation by participating in community events, speaking at houses of worship and civic organizations, and encouraging local organizations and businesses to display donor registry brochures, donor cards and information.
"You just don't realize the impact it can have," Kuzminski added. "If each person can become an organ donor, that's wonderful."
The next meeting of the Bayonne-Jersey City group is at 6:30 p.m., July 12, in Degnan Room at St. Peter's College in Jersey City.