Creating greater public awareness about the life-saving importance of organ donation, Governor Chris Christie today signed a proclamation designating April as Donate Life Month in New Jersey. Last year, Governor Christie took action to increase donor registration by signing legislation requiring the State to disseminate organ and tissue donation information to all State employees reminding them of the need for organ donors. In addition, the law calls on the Department of Treasury to encourage all businesses with contracts with the State to notify their employees of organ donation options through information and materials or through an awareness program.
"Becoming an organ donor is one simple act that has the ability to transform and save many lives," said Governor Christie, who is a registered donor. "As the need for transplants continues to increase - with one name added to the waiting list every 18 minutes - so does the need for donors. That's why Donate Life Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about the critical importance of registering to become an organ donor now. Doing so can have the most profound impact - giving someone a second chance at a healthy life while bringing joy to family members."
Currently, there are 110 million registered donors in the United States, including 2.3 million registered donors from New Jersey. Nationally, there are more than 117,800 people waiting to receive a life-saving organ transplant. Another name is added to the waiting list every 18 minutes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an average of 79 people will receive an organ transplant each day. Last year alone, organ donors made more than 28,000 transplants possible; another 1 million received cornea and other life-saving tissue transplants.
The need for organ and tissue donations and the shortage of donors affects people of all ethnic groups. In fact, the need for organ donation is greatest among African Americans and Hispanics because they have higher rates of hypertension, diabetes and obesity - diseases which more often require organ transplants.
To begin to address this need, Governor Christie signed Jaden's Law in 2010. The measure is designed to save lives by promoting bone marrow donation awareness in New Jersey. The legislation was inspired by a 3-year-old boy who lost his battle with Leukemia in 2007 after a suitable bone marrow donor could not be located.
"The need for organ transplants and the shortage of donors affects people of all ethnic backgrounds," said Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd, also a registered donor. "As we celebrate Minority and Multicultural Health Month, it is important to recognize the need to increase the diversity of registered donors. Those waiting for a life-saving organ are more likely to receive transplants if more people from all backgrounds donate."
Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor. In-person organ donor registration is available at local Motor Vehicle Commission agencies. For more details please visit www.state.nj.us/mvc/Licenses/organ_donor.htm.
Residents can request a paper registration form at 1-800-742-7365. When registering in person, the words "Organ Donor" will appear on the NJ driver license or non-driver identification card. When registering online or through paper registration, the designation will appear in the driver's record. Saying "yes" to organ donation is legal consent to the donation of organs and tissue for the purpose of transplantation or medical research.
To learn more about organ donation, please visit http://www.donatelifenj.org.