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Keyport resident to participate in Rose Parade ‘Donate Life’ float

NJ Sharing Network recently honored lung transplant recipient Dawn Burke of Keyport and paid tribute to the memory of organ donor Dr. Jamila Irons-Johnson, the daughter of Janice Campbell of West Orange, as Burke and Campbell get set to participate in the 2022 Donate Life Rose Parade float during the Tournament of Roses parade that will take place in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day, Jan. 1.

Burke will ride on the float and Campbell will attend the parade as Irons-Johnson will be honored with a floragraph on the float, according to a press release from NJ Sharing Network.

Burke and Campbell were joined by their families and loved ones during a Floragraph Finishing and Sendoff Event at NJ Sharing Network in New Providence, Union County.

Campbell and her family put the finishing artistic touches on the floragraph that will be sent to California for placement on the Donate Life Rose Parade float, according to the press release.

Since 2004, the Donate Life Rose Parade float has inspired people across the country and around the world to save and heal lives with the powerful message of organ, eye and tissue donation, according to the press release.

The 2022 float, Courage to Hope, shares the courage shown by donor families, living donors and transplant recipients. It features numerous floragraphs, which replicate photographs, but are made entirely of organic materials, honoring donors from around the country.

According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), one person in New Jersey dies every three days waiting for a transplant. Just one organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of more than 75 people. To learn more and to register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org

Burke had been fighting the good fight against Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a disease that scars the lungs for unknown reasons. But her irreversible condition forced her to rely on oxygen therapy and she could hardly take a few steps without losing her breath.

While Burke waited for a life-saving lung transplant, she always kept a “don’t worry about a thing” attitude and turned to the power of prayer and positive thinking. Burke never lost hope and the call finally came for her transplant in 2019, according to the press release.

In the operating room at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, her transplant team played Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” – subtitled “Don’t Worry About a Thing” – in honor of Burke’s love for music, particularly reggae.

Today, Burke is enjoying life to its fullest. It is her mission to raise awareness about the importance of registering as an organ and tissue donor and to spread the word about the gift she received in hope of inspiring and encouraging others on the transplant waiting list, according to the press release.

Campbell’s life changed forever on Jan. 24, 2013. That is the day her daughter, Irons-Johnson, suffered a fatal aneurysm rupture.

Irons-Johnson was a 35-year-old psychologist who focused on supporting often abused or neglected children.

Irons-Johnson, a married mother of two children, worked at Saint Peter’s University Hospital where she was the supervising psychologist for the Dorothy B. Hersh Child Protection Center, New Brunswick.

Irons-Johnson was admired and loved by those with whom she worked, according to the press release.

Upon Irons-Johnson’s passing, Campbell and her daughter’s family made the decision to donate her organs. That night, Irons-Johnson saved the lives of six people, according to the press release.

“My son-in-law said, ‘Mom, she would want that. She was a giving person,’ ” Campbell recalled.

Irons-Johnson donated two kidneys and her heart, liver, pancreas and lungs. Her mother will now honor her memory at the 2022 Rose Parade, according to the press release.

NJ Sharing Network is the federally designated nonprofit organization responsible for recovering organs and tissue for the nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents currently waiting for a life-saving transplant.

The Sharing Network Foundation is committed to increasing the number of lives saved through innovative transplant research, family support, public awareness and education about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation, according to the press release.

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