NJ Sharing Network has kicked off its 2020 #DonationNeedsDiversity initiative — honoring the generosity of donors from multiple cultures, and underscoring the need for people from diverse communities to register for donation.

Director of Hospital and Community Services Alyssa D'Addio said in a world of uncertainty, beauty is always shown in organ donation. People can be in the worst hour of losing a loved one, but will will say yes to saving someone else's life at the same time, she said.

In August, named National Minority Donor Awareness Month, the network is hoping to spread the word that the more people who register, the better chance there is for the more than 5,000 people currently on the donor wait list in New Jersey to receive life-saving transplants.

"I think as a community we come together, we register, we're there for one another. You know, love your neighbor as yourself," D'Addio said.

According to the NJ Sharing Network, 66% of those currently waiting for life-saving transplants in the state are people of color. Almost 35% of the nearly 115,000 people on the national waiting list for kidney transplants are Black. Black people, people of Asians decent Pacific Islanders and Hispanic people are three times more likely than white people to suffer from end-stage renal (kidney) disease.

D'Addio said while organs are not matched according to race and ethnicity, all individuals waiting for an organ or a tissue transplant have a better chance of receiving one if there are large numbers of donors from multiple communities.

She said the good thing is there is a lot of generosity in New Jersey. About 65% of the time, families who lose a loved one say "yes" at the bedside to organ and tissue and donation. D'Addio added that people in New Jersey seem to be very generous no matter their race or their background.

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"We're a generous state. We want to help one another. We want to be there for one another. So if more of us can register and have these conversations with our families before we're in a time of grief and shock, that would be the best case scenario," D'Addio said.

To learn more about the initiative or to register to become an organ donor, visit njsharingnetwork.org/donationneedsdiversity.

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