TRENTON – State Senator Joseph F. Vitale, sponsor of the New Jersey Hero Act to increase organ donation in the Garden State, urged New Jersey residents to celebrate “Donate Life Month,” by signing up to be an organ donor in April.
“There’s absolutely no greater gift we can give than the gift of a second chance at life,” said Vitale, D-Middlesex. “To the folks living on the organ donation waiting list, and the thousands of others whose lives have been saved due to receiving a transplanted organ, donors are true heroes. I hope this April, to commemorate ‘Donate Life Month’ in New Jersey, more state residents will join me in making the commitment to become an organ donor.”
The “New Jersey Hero Act,” which was signed into law in 2008, and was sponsored by Vitale and Senator Richard J. Codey, created two new tools to increase the number of organ donors in New Jersey. Within five years of the bill’s passage, all New Jerseyans over the age of 18 who apply for or renew a driver’s license will first be asked whether or not they want to become an organ donor, or if they would like to designate someone as a decision-maker on their behalf, should they become incapacitated in an automobile accident. The law also creates an education component in high schools, to help drive home the importance of organ donation.
According to New Jersey Organ and Tissue Sharing Network (NJ Sharing Network) and Gift of Life Donor Program (GOLDP), nearly 100,000 people in the United States are in need of organ transplants, including approximately 4,200 people in New Jersey alone. The organizations noted that an average of 18 people die each day as a result of the lack of available organs for transplant.
“I can’t overstate how significant the gift of organ donation is to someone who would otherwise die without a viable transplant,” said Vitale. “While New Jersey has certainly taken steps to encourage more people to opt into becoming organ donors, there still isn’t enough donors to meet the need. Hopefully we can raise awareness as to the need for organ donors, and the impact those donors can have in the lives of people waiting for a transplant.”
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