Lacey resident Eileen Tumminelli recently witnessed her daughter getting engaged in front of Cinderella's Castle at Disney World.

"Now I have a wedding to look forward to," Eileen told New Jersey 101.5. "I will do everything to stay healthy and be there and participate."

John Moran, who was born and raised in the Garden State, is feeling "like a million bucks," months after suffering a heart attack.

"I'm walking around like nothing happened. It's incredible," he said.

It's likely neither of those accomplishments would have been possible if Eilieen and John hadn't become the lucky recipients of organ transplantation. Both underwent life-saving procedures during the coronavirus pandemic at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility.

"I'll do anything I can to protect this gift," John said.

John received a new heart on Jan. 21 of this year, nearly six weeks after his heart attack. Eileen received a bilateral lung transplant in June 2020, following nearly 3 years on the waiting list.

"I'm able to do more; I'm back at the gym," Eileen said.

The majority of folks waiting to be the recipient of a critical organ, such as a heart, kidney or lung, do not get the chance. In honor of Donate Life Month, medical professionals are urging residents to become an organ donor so they can give the gift of life upon their passing.

"There is a real discrepancy between supply and demand," said Dr. Margarita Camacho, surgical director of cardiac transplantation at Newark Beth Israel. "There's a great need for more organs. Patients die on the waiting list every day."

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents are waiting for a life-saving transplant. One donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 people, NJ Sharing Network says.

"My husband and my children are all organ donors now," Eileen said. "Most of my extended family is, because of what's happened to me."

"I've always been a proponent of organ donation," John said. "They're not doing me any good when I'm gone."

A little more than a third of New Jerseyans with drivers licenses were registered as organ donors in 2019, according to Gift of Life Donor Program.

Individuals can register to donate their organs and tissues for transplant or medical research when applying for or renewing their New Jersey driver license or non-driver identification card. Individuals can also fill out the "binding, legal document of gift" at this link.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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