NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Celebrated in April each year, National Donate Life Month features local, regional and national activities that encourage Americans to register as organ and tissue donors and to celebrate those who have saved lives through the gift of donation.
On April 1, Emma Rothman of Cranford will help NJ Sharing Network kick-off National Donate Life Month by celebrating the 10th anniversary of her life-saving heart transplant. She is also just weeks away from graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in Food Studies. Like most college graduates, Emma has mixed emotions about taking the next step in her life’s journey. She also remains humble and always thankful for her donor who gave her the gift of life and made her achievements possible.
“I am definitely a bit terrified, but I am excited about the variety of opportunities that lie ahead,” said Emma. “Everything after my heart transplant was working towards moments like this. It motivates me to appreciate the day to day – being able to travel, go away to school, and have life experiences without my health dictating what I can and cannot do is a blessing. I owe all of this to my organ donor’s act of extraordinary humanity, and I am proud to help NJ Sharing Network encourage others to register to be organ and tissue donors.”
Joe Roth, president and CEO of NJ Sharing Network, appreciates Emma’s support and the efforts of its thousands of local volunteers and healthcare partners. “Donate Life Month has always been a time to rally around the importance of organ and tissue donation, which we have traditionally done through community events and activities,” said Roth. “Although we will not be able to do in-person activities this year, our team of dedicated staff and volunteers are driven to spread our life-saving message using our online platforms.”
NJ Sharing Network’s National Donate Life Month webpage (www.NJSharingNetwork.org/DLM) features informative videos, flyers and social media graphics to share with others. In addition, all are welcome to participate in the following online activities and programs:
Friday, April 16 – National Blue and Green Day
All are encouraged to wear blue and green to promote the importance of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Enter NJ Sharing Network’s Blue and Green Challenge for great giveaways. Get creative – dress up your pets in blue and green, decorate your home or workplace, take photos and e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org or post on your social media page and tag @NJSharingNetwork.
Thursday, April 22, at 5:00 pm – #IGotThePower Youth Panel Discussion
Join us on NJ Sharing Network’s Facebook page for an inspirational discussion with local youths whose lives have been changed by the miracle of organ and tissue donation.
Friday, April 30 | 5:00 pm – Facebook Live Donor Remembrance Day
Join us on NJ Sharing Network’s Facebook page or YouTube channel for a special program in honor of those who generously gave the gift of life. Additional details coming soon – visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org/Events.
Lakisha Bray of Plainfield is an incredibly strong and resilient woman who is using Donate Life Month as a time to help raise awareness about the importance of organ donation. Lakisha’s daughter, Talea, was born with cerebral palsy and passed away just before her 21st birthday, but she was able to save three lives with her donations. Just six months later, Lakisha’s sister Tabitha died while waiting for an intestinal transplant.
“I was touched on both sides – I was able to give the gift of life and had a family member not be able to receive the gift life,” said Lakisha. “I became an advocate for organ donation to honor both of their memories.”
Michael and Lucy Patriarca of Point Pleasant Beach have been advocating for organ and tissue donation since the tragic passing of their son Alexander. Michael and Lucy hoped to one day meet the recipients of their son’s gifts. With the assistance of NJ Sharing Network, the Patriarca family united with two of the four individuals whose lives Alex saved. In December 2019, they met with his heart and kidney recipient, Bill Hoffman. Surrounded by family and friends, they greeted one another with hugs and tears, exchanged small gifts, and took turns listening to Alex’s heart beat in Bill’s chest. Two months later, they united with Alex’s lung recipient Ed Walsh, and his wife, Tammy. The day Alex died was the Walsh’s son’s birthday, and Ed’s restored health was the best gift the young man could ever receive.
“Out of our tragedy those families had a triumph,” said Michael. “I think it’s important that we connected with them and understand their stories.”
In New Jersey, there are nearly 4,000 residents currently waiting for a life-saving transplant, and one person in New Jersey dies every three days waiting for a transplant. Just one organ and tissue donor can save 8 lives and enhance the lives of over 75 people. Transplantable organs include heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and intestine. Transplantable tissue includes corneas, heart valves, skin grafts, and bone grafts, ligament and tendons.
To learn more, get involved and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org
PHOTO of Emma Rothman – Courtesy of NJ Sharing Network
NJ Sharing Network is the federally designated non-profit organization responsible for recovering organs and tissue for the nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents currently waiting for a life-saving transplant. With headquarters in New Providence, NJ, the organization is part of the national recovery system, serving the 110,000 people on the national waiting list. NJ Sharing Network was selected by NJBiz as one of the state’s “Best Places to Work” for the third consecutive year. To learn more, get involved and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.