Ribbons encourage support for organ donation

Photo by Kathy Stevens / New Jersey Herald - Lillian Louglas, left, of the New Jersey Sharing Network, stands with volunteers who hung green and blue ribbons on Spring Street in Newton on Thursday. The ribbons were hung to commemorate April as National Donate Life Month to raise awareness for organ donation. Standing with Louglas, from left in front, are Amy Cilli, of Sparta; Sandy Erwin, of Newton; and Dave Henderson, of Sussex. In back, from left, Stephen Schoonmaker, of Lafayette, ties a green and blue ribbon on the lamp post at Between the Bread on Spring Street; J. Henry Rodriguez, of Newton; Dan Sarnowski, of Sparta and Larry Erwin, of Newton with grandson Eamon.
Six years ago today, the love of Dan Sarnowski's life, Betsy Niles, died.

The day before, Niles, 60, had been struck by a motor vehicle while walking to catch a morning train in Montclair to go to work into New York City. The driver, blinded by the sun, had been unable to see her.

That evening, as Niles lay dying in a hospital, Sarnowski and Niles' daughter, Alexandra, were approached by a transplant coordinator for the New Jersey Sharing Network, who asked if Niles was an organ donor.

She wasn't, but, Sarnowski recalled, her daughter said, "I know my mother. She would give everything she could." Thus, a man in Newark has been off kidney dialysis for six years after receiving Niles' kidney, and 35 people had their lives improved due to tissue donation.

Green and blue ribbons that festoon Spring Street in Newton and the Main Street/Sparta Avenue/White Deer Plaza/Town Center Drive area in Sparta stand as testimonial to Niles and to others whose lives have been shared through organ and tissue donation.

Sarnowski, who now lives in Sparta, has been a volunteer with the New Jersey Sharing Network since shortly after Niles' death and on Thursday was among the group of volunteers who tied ribbons on lampposts in Newton. In April, he will visit area high schools to speak about the importance of organ donation. Continue reading
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