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Save a life, become an organ donor

By L. Chadrick Chua, M.D.

We are rapidly approaching April, which is National Donate Life Month. This observance honors those who have given the gift of organ and tissue, who have received a lifesaving transplant, and those currently waiting for a transplant.  It is also a good time to review the facts of organ and tissue donation.

There are currently 115,000 people in the United States and more than 4,000 living in New Jersey waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. The wait time for kidneys, the most needed organ, is five to seven years because the potential to find a suitable organ donor is rare.

One organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and restore health to more than 75 others. If you think about it, that is a lot of people who can be helped by becoming a registered donor. Transplantable organs include the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, and intestine. Transplantable tissue includes corneas to restore sight, bone and ligaments to repair injuries, skin grafts to heal burns and for surgical reconstruction, and heart valves to replace diseased valves.

Although 97 people died in 2017 (the most recent year records are available) while waiting for an organ transplant at New Jersey transplant centers, more New Jersey residents are providing the gift of life with more than 550 organs transplanted.

Let’s continue that trend of growing our number of registered organ and tissue donors in New Jersey. Register as an organ and tissue donor today at www.njsharingnetwork.org. It will only take a minute to register and save lives.

Chadrick Chua, M.D., is the medical director of Critical Care at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center. For more information about organ and tissue donation, stop by Raritan Bay’s information tables from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on April 9 on the concourse level at Raritan Bay-Perth Amboy, 530 New Brunswick Ave., or from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 10, main lobby of 3 Hospital Plaza, Raritan Bay-Old Bridge.

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