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Organ Donors Spike in NJ, But More Wanted [AUDIO]

In January 2010, the vehicle carrying Jackie Lue Raia and her family was struck by a tractor trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike. They were rushed to the emergency room at The University Hospital in Newark, and before their mother passed away, Raia and her siblings decided to donate her organs.

Gwendolyn Anderson and Jackie Lue Raia
Gwendolyn Anderson (left) received a kidney from the mother of Jackie Lui Raia (right). (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media)

Following that decision, Gwendolyn Anderson received the most important phone call of her life. She would soon be the recipient of a kidney from Raia’s mother.

“After I woke up and I realized I had a new lease on life, I really wanted to get up and start shouting,” said Anderson.

Since meeting face-to-face two years later, Anderson and Raia have been promoting the importance of organ donation. On Wednesday, they had the pleasure to share in the delivery of positive New Jersey donor numbers.

In the first six months of 2012, looking at north and central New Jersey motor vehicle agencies, 34 percent of adults registered to be organ donors when they received or renewed their driver’s licenses – an increase of more than ten percent over 2011.

The increase at the Newark agency was 19.3 percent; five agencies achieved donation rate increases of more than 15 percent.

NJ Sharing Network leaders said the increase in organ donor registration can be credited to community-based outreach initiatives and its enhanced relationship with the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission.

Joe Roth and Ray Martinez
NJ Sharing Network President Joe Roth (left) and MVC Chief Administrator Ray Martinez (right) encourage donor registration. (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media)

However, much more work can be done to increase donor registration, according to MVC Chief Ray Martinez.

“There remains a discrepancy between the amount of minorities awaiting a transplant and the percentage of minorities registered on the donor list,” Martinez explained.

In New Jersey, minorities represent 60 percent of individuals on the transplant waiting list, while accounting for 36 percent of living and 46 percent of deceased donors.

“Minorities are disproportionately affected by illnesses, like hypertension and diabetes, which can lead to end-stage disease and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant,” said Joe Roth, NJ Sharing Network President/CEO. “This contributes to the higher number of minority patients.”

There are currently more than 5,000 New Jersey patients waiting on a life-saving organ transplant, and more than 124,000 nationwide.

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