The COVID-19 pandemic has added a new layer of difficulty to organ donation and transplantation. In New Jersey, “severe hospital patient surges forced the temporary suspension of routine medical care, elective surgeries and most transplant activity in April and May 2020,” according to a press release from NJ Sharing Network, the nonprofit, federally designated organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue donations in the state. In addition, deceased patients with active COVID-19 virus were ruled out for organ or tissue donation in 2020.
Despite the added challenges, NJ Sharing Network has announced an all-time high of organ donors in a single year, with life-giving organ donations from 222 individuals in 2020, an 8% increase over the previous year.
Last year, 572 organs were transplanted thanks to donors in New Jersey, including 339 kidneys, 124 livers, 50 hearts, 45 lungs and 14 pancreases. And there were 46,462 tissue and eye donations. Tissue donations include corneas, heart valves, skin grafts, and bone grafts, ligament and tendons.
NJ Sharing Network is credited with helping to increase organ transplantation in the Garden State by 31% over the past decade. In November, five New Jersey cities, including Newark, Jersey City and Edison, were among the top ten highest in the U.S. for registrations on the National Donor Registry.
Nearly 4,000 people are on the organ transplant waiting list in New Jersey; one person dies every three days waiting for a transplant. One organ donor can save eight lives, and one tissue donor can enhance the lives of over 75 people. To learn more, get involved and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.