Organ transplants are making a difference in New Jersey
The group charged with the recovery and placement of donated organs in New Jersey says donations saved 16 percent more lives in 2016.
The NJ Sharing Network says 2016 was the second straight year that they saw a significant increase in transplanted organs. They saw 613 transplants in the state.
Tissue donation also broke records for the network, with a 10 percent increase last year.
"2016 was the second-straight year that we saw a significant increase in organs transplanted. Each organ means a life saved," Sharing Network CEO Joe Roth said.
Roth cited just one of the many examples: Jill Szalony is a Glen Ridge mother of three who had been struggling with a bad heart since 2009. In late 2015, she was told she needed a heart transplant to survive. Szalony was placed on the waiting list and received a gift of life: a heart transplant in November.
However, there are still almost 5,000 New Jerseyans waiting for a transplant.
"Our job, hopefully, is to increase the number of organs transplanted to the point where, I do not know if we will be able to completely transplant the whole list, but we hopefully get to the point where we can prevent people from dying while they are waiting," Roth said.
"Most (on the waiting list) are hoping for a kidney, but there are also those waiting for hearts, livers, lungs and even intestines."
His message to potential donors? "Make your wishes known through registering your wishes on a registry or an advanced directive." You should also let your family know.
You can also go the the website, www.NJSharingNetwork.org.
And if you are an iPhone user, you can use the health app to register on the "National Donate Life" registry.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5