NJ Sharing Network plans events to encourage organ and tissue donation

Anika Bhatnagar of Edison, left, volunteers to raise awareness during National Donate Life Month. Her mother Sarika, right, donated one of her kidneys to save the life of Anika’s father, Vinay, center.

EDISON  – Sarika Bhatnagar donated one of her kidneys to save the life of her husband, Vinay. They are now both living healthy and active lifestyles since the successful transplant last summer.

Their daughter Anika, a sophomore at Woodbridge Academy, is working to create a Donate Life Club in her school to educate fellow students about the importance of registering as an organ and tissue donor, inspired by her parents’ journey.

Anika will be one of the featured participants in NJ Sharing Network’s Stories of Hope Panel Discussion that will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on April 5 at 7 p.m., as part of National Donate Life Month.


“While supporting my parents through their transplant journey, I learned about the lack of awareness and misconceptions around the topic of organ and tissue donation,” Anika said in a statement provided by NJ Sharing Network. “Activities during National Donate Life Month are important, especially among high school students. Within the next few years, students like me will be first-time applicants for a driver’s license, and they will have the opportunity make the life-saving decision to say ‘yes’ to registering as an organ and tissue donor.”

Organ and tissue donor registrations in the Garden State continue to increase thanks to strong community education and outreach efforts and expanded ways to register, according to the statement. New Jersey donor registration jumped 8.3% in 2021, and the state ranks fifth in the nation on the Donate Life America National Registry.


New Jerseyans can register in any of the following options:


Celebrated in April each year, National Donate Life Month features local, regional and national activities that encourage Americans to register as organ and tissue donors and to celebrate those who have saved lives through the gift of donation. Currently, there are over 100,000 Americans – nearly 4,000 of whom live in New Jersey – waiting for a lifesaving transplant, according to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

One organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 others, according to the statement.


Locally, NJ Sharing Network is leading a wide variety of community awareness events and activities that will be held in person and online.


“Here in New Jersey, National Donate Life Month has always been a time to rally around the importance of organ and tissue donation and transplantation,” Joseph S. Roth, president and CEO of NJ Sharing Network, said in the statement. “We are fortunate to be supported by a wide and diverse range of community volunteers and partners who are committed to spreading our lifesaving message to help save and enhance lives.”


NJ Sharing Network’s National Donate Life Month webpage at www.NJSharingNetwork.org/DLM and social media platforms will be continually updated with information on ways for residents to participate in activities throughout April. The website also features informative videos, fliers and social media messaging to share with others.

All are welcome to participate in the following activities:


Stories of Hope Panel Discussion, Tuesday, April 5 at 7 p.m.: Hear inspiring stories of courage and hope from those touched by the miracle of organ and tissue donation live at www.facebook.com/NJSharingNetwork and www.youtube.com/c/NJSharingNetwork.


Blue and Green Day, Friday, April 22: All are encouraged to wear blue and green to promote the importance of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Get creative – dress up pets in blue and green, decorate your home or workplace, take photos, and email them to [email protected] or post on your social media pages and tag @NJSharingNetwork.


Donor Registry Days at American Dream in the Meadowlands, Saturday, April 23, Sunday, April 24, and Sunday, April 30: Stop by the display tables for information and giveaways.


TikTok Challenge: Create a TikTok video about organ and tissue donation for a chance to win a $100 gift card. Learn more at www.NJSharingNetwork.org/DLM