NEW BRUNSWICK — A state organization is sponsoring a comedy event at a city restaurant this week to bring attention to the lack of registered organ donors.
The Donate Life N.J. 2009 Holiday Showcase will bring to light the gap between the number of African-American New Jersey residents who are in dire need of an organ transplant and the number of consenting organ donors, said Myra Burks-Davis, the assistant director of public relations and community affairs for the New Jersey Sharing Network.
According to Burks-Davis, the NJ Sharing Network — which is sponsoring the event Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Makeda's Restaurant on George Street — is a nonprofit, federally-certified, state-approved procurement organization that assists in the recovery of organs and tissue for 4,500 state residents currently awaiting organ donations.
The organization also is part of the national recovery system, she added, which is in place for more than 100,000 people nationwide on waiting lists.
Tuesday's event will feature several well-known comedians commonly seen on television stations such as HBO, BET, NBC and Comedy Central.The show will be hosted by Talent, an on-air personality at 98.7 KISS FM and the host of Showtime at The Apollo.
Free admission will be granted to those who come before 7 p.m. and have an organ donor designation on their driver's license or intend to participate in one of the community health screenings that will be available throughout the night, Burks-Davis said.
Admission is $20 per person after 7 p.m. Doors will open at 5 p.m.
"There will be some testimonials from individuals who have received organ transplants," Burks-Davis said. "It's kind of like a gift to the community, all wrapped up in a bowl of comedy. It's going to be a fun topic. The focus is not about death. It's about preventing death in the way that you can do so if you made your donor designations known."
She said that about 27 percent of the state's population has the organ donor designation on their driver's license. However, six counties — including Middlesex County — are below that mark, she said.
There are approximately 105,000 people nationwide on a transplant waiting list, Burks-Davis said, with about 80,000 waiting for kidneys — about two-thirds of who are African-American or Latino, she said.
"There is a big gap between the number of people who need transplants and the number of organs available for transplant," Burks-Davis said. "Amongst African-American and Spanish-speaking communities, hypertension and diabetes are diseases that really do a job on the communities and individuals a lot of the times end up needing kidney transplants."
Burks-Davis said that those who cannot attend Tuesday night's event but wish to register to be an organ donor can do so at www.donatelifenj.org.