NEWARK – Governor Chris Christie signed legislation seeking to encourage organ and tissue donation by designating April as “Donate Life Month” in New Jersey.
Under the new law, the New Jersey State Treasurer is required to disseminate information about organ and tissue donation via state employee pay stubs, as well as encourage all businesses awarded contracts with the state to similarly inform their employees.
“Donating an organ and giving someone a second chance at life is by far the greatest gift a person can give,” said Senator Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of the bill and a registered organ donor. “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. However, there is a critical shortage of organ donors in New Jersey and around the country, and we have to do better.”
“Out of tragedy, much good can be done for another human being waiting for a life saving organ or tissue transplant,” said Senator Diane Allen (R- Burlington). “Signing up as an organ, tissue, eye, or bone marrow donor is easy, yet too few people do so out of a lack of awareness, misinformation, or fear. By raising awareness at the state level about how to donate and encouraging those doing business with the state to do the same, we can improve the odds that more patients fighting for their lives while on the transplant waiting list will be saved and go on to lead healthy, productive lives.”
“Organ and tissue donation is one of the single greatest gifts we can give,” said Assemblymen Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “The amount of lives that can be saved or improved by one single donor is invaluable. Hopefully, through the power of education, we can encourage everyone to give the gift of life.”
“Organ donation is a simple, heroic act that everyone should consider,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “Many people support organ donation but often fail to find the time to register to become a donor. Hopefully this educational campaign will put the knowledge at their fingertips and increase registration.”
According to New Jersey Organ and Tissue Sharing Network (NJ Sharing Network), nearly 110,000 people in the United States are in need of organ transplants, including approximately 5,000 people in New Jersey alone. The organization notes that an average of 18 people die each day as a result of the lack of available organs for transplant.
Since Donate Life New Jersey – the organization that handles donations in the state – began partnering with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission in 2006, organ and tissue donor registrations have increased more than 50 percent, but New Jersey still lags behind other states in the number of donors registered. Nationwide, 42 percent of registered drivers are organ donors; yet only 32 percent of New Jerseyans are on the organ donor registry.
“My hope is that by bringing more awareness to the desperate need for organ donors through ‘Donate Life Month,’ we can increase participation in the organ donor database and help the thousands more who languish on recipient lists until it’s too late,” said Vitale.
A New Jersey resident can add their name to the organ donor registry by either indicating their desire while applying for or renewing their driver’s license or by signing up online through the Donate Life NJ Online Registry at https://emvc.state.nj.us/MVC_DLNJ/AVSStart.jsp.
“It takes only a minute to become an organ and tissue donor, yet only a third of those eligible in New Jersey have signed up,” added Vitale. “It is important that people throughout the state know and understand the great need for organ and tissue donations and that this simple action while renewing their drivers license could save someone’s life.”
In March, the legislation was approved unanimously in the State Senate and with a vote of 79-0-1 in the General Assembly