NJ.com | Kathleen O'Brien
Last year just 282 families were confronted with a tough decision at an extremely difficult time: Should they authorize the donation of their dying relative's organs?
The ones that said "Yes" had a hand in saving nearly 300 lives last year, according to the NJ Sharing Network, the non-profit group designated for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue for most of the state.Kidney donations from 166 living donors boosted the total of lives saved to 460.
More than 70,000 people die in New Jersey every year, according to state statistics, and at least 2.5 million residents have registered as organ and tissue donors. Those large numbers might lead to the assumption there are plenty of donors to serve the need.Yet the medical reality is the vast majority of them won't qualify to donate their organs. They were either too sick or old before their deaths, or if younger and healthier, died in situations that make their organs medically unsuitable for transplantation.
Both the person and the circumstances have to be just right for transplantation - a combination that happened for those 282 families."When we let families know how rare it is, that's a big surprise for them," said Jan Hines, manager of hospital services for the network.Of those families, 175 authorized organ donation from their deceased loved one last year.
Another 166 people were living donors of kidneys.Together, living and deceased donors saved the lives of 460 transplant recipients. (Some received multiple transplanted organs.)Kidneys accounted for the most transplants, at 168, with 55 livers, 2 pancreases, 66 hearts, and 12 kidney/pancreas combinations joining the life-saving tally.A separate category of tissue donations - including skin, corneas, bone, and heart valves - jumped by 68 percent, to 670 donors in 2014, the network reported.Over that same time period, however, 143 people registered at with New Jersey transplant program died while on the waiting list. That's one person every 2 1/2 days. Another 200 were removed from the waiting list because they became too sick to receive a transplant. Continue reading.