NEW PROVIDENCE – The percentage of drivers registered to be organ and tissue donors at North and Central New Jersey motor vehicle agencies has spiked 10 percent in the first six months of this year, with the greatest increase at the motor vehicle agency in Newark, according to a first-ever report on the topic from NJ Sharing Network.
The report, produced with data from the state’s donor registry and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, shows that in the first six months of this year, 34 percent of adults registered to be organ donors when they received or renewed their driver’s licenses at a North Jersey or Central Jersey motor vehicle agency, an increase of 10 percent from 2011.
The increase at the Newark motor vehicle agency was 19 percent.
Across the state, the percentage of people signing up to be donors last year remained flat, making the increase in Central and North Jersey unique and gratifying, said Joe Roth, President & CEO, NJ Sharing Network.
“This tells us that our outreach efforts are making a real difference, especially in some of the most diverse communities in our state, such as eastern Essex County,” Roth said.
NJ Sharing Network leaders credited community-based outreach initiatives and its enhanced relationship with the state’s motor vehicle commission for the increase in organ donor registration.
Several highlights of the 2012 report:
- Motor vehicle agencies in five communities achieved donation rate increases of more than 15 percent: Newark, Wallington, Oakland, Bayonne and Toms River.
- Flemington had the highest donor registration percentage rate at 49 percent.
- The gains in the first 6 months of this year are 10 percent higher than year-end registration totals in 2011.
Minorities comprise 56 percent of individuals on the U.S. transplant waiting list, while only representing 33 percent of living and deceased donors.
“Minorities are disproportionately affected by illnesses, like hypertension and diabetes, which can lead to end-stage renal disease and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant,” Roth said. “This contributes to the higher number of minority patients on the national organ transplant waiting list.
NJ Sharing Network’s report, Donor Designation & Minority Transplantation Profile for New Jersey 2012, was released today to help raise awareness during National Minority Donor Awareness Week (Aug. 1-8), a nationwide observance that aims to educate minorities about the ongoing, desperate need for organ and tissue donors within multicultural communities nationwide. The observance encourages people from all ethnic groups to become donors. To view the full report or to register as an organ donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.
“Our partnership with the NJ Sharing Network continues to yield positive results in that the number of registered donors in our state has grown,” said Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “The need to increase the number of minority participants is critical so it is encouraging when we see registration spikes through the MVC and particularly in urban communities.”
NJ Sharing Network has created outreach programs to minority communities, where organ donation rates remain lower than the state average despite the recent gains in cities such as Newark. Minorities still comprise 56 percent of individuals on the U.S. transplant waiting list, while only representing 33 percent of living and deceased donors.
“Locally, NJ Sharing Network recognizes the overall positive trend,” Roth said, “but continues to address issues contributing to lower registration rates in minority communities by engaging volunteers and organizations from multicultural communities to assist with education and outreach efforts.
Programs such as NJ Sharing Network’s Donate Life Regional Volunteer Groups focus on recruiting volunteers from local communities. Regional volunteers are given opportunities to share their personal experiences with donation and transplantation to encourage organ donor registration. Additionally, NJ Sharing Network has expanded its outreach efforts to faith-based groups to raise awareness and mobilize community support, and works closely with New Jersey donor hospitals and transplant centers to ensure donor families and recipients are treated with compassion.
“The sad fact: there are not enough organs donated, especially from minorities, to reach everyone who is waiting for a transplant. And nothing is worse than when a chance to save the lives of others through organ donation is missed,” said the Rev. George Blackwell, an African American pastor at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark and member of the city’s Donate Life Regional Volunteer Group. “Every individual can provide the ‘gift of life.’ What greater blessing could there be?”