BY: Najla Alexander
NJ Faith Community officials say that observed annually in November is National Donor Sabbath.
Officials say that a time focused on educating faith-based communities about the critical need for organ and tissue donation and the vital role faith plays in deciding to register as a donor.
Officials report faith leaders and devout followers of various religions from throughout New Jersey have actively voiced their support for organ and tissue donation to provide hope for those waiting for a life-saving transplant.
According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), over 100,000 Americans – nearly 4,000 of whom live in New Jersey – are waiting for a life-saving transplant. One organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 others.
“When considering life and death issues, such as organ and tissue donation, many people often turn to their faith leaders for spiritual guidance and to learn about their faith’s perspective,” explained Alyssa D’Addio, Vice President, Hospital and Community Services, NJ Sharing Network, the federally designated nonprofit organization responsible for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue in the state.
“Most of the world’s major religions hold official positions that look positively upon organ and tissue donation as an unparalleled gift of generosity and compassion. We are extremely fortunate to have strong partners in our local faith-based communities who support our life-saving mission by discussing organ and tissue donation with their congregations and by sharing their inspirational stories and unique perspectives about donation.”
The following are examples of local faith leaders and devout followers of various religions expressing their support for people to register as organ and tissue donors:
Rev. Dr. Vanessa M. Brown, Rivers of Living Water Ministries UCC of Newark – “Life is one of the greatest gifts that you can give, and it is a gift that can be shared. It is part of us doing good in this world by saving lives.”
Pastor Hilton Rawls, Jr., Greater Grace Church in East Orange, and kidney transplant recipient - “One of the basic tenets of faith is giving and receiving. Whether you are a person of faith or not, love is something with which we all identify. What happens within the walls of NJ Sharing Network can be recognized as love.”
Fr. Edmund Luciano, Parish of the Visitation of New Brunswick, and heart transplant recipient – “The Catholic Church is very much in support of organ and tissue donation. We encourage our families to be aware of this. It is a testament of love for our neighbor.”
Rabbi Ari Lucas, Congregation Agudath Israel (CAI) of Caldwell – “Organ and tissue donation is supported by all major streams of Judaism. Many in our synagogue community have been profoundly affected by the generosity of people who gave the gift of life. They are the greatest preachers of this importance because they are living testaments to the value of organ and tissue donation.”
Rajesh Karnani, son of a tissue donor and member of the Hindu community in Paramus – “My father was passionate about his family, his faith, and his support for organ and tissue donation. He would often speak with our Hindu religious leaders to discuss the virtues of organ donation, and they recognized it as the best gift anyone could give to another person.”
Rev. Dr. Marilyn M. Harris, First Baptist Church of Teaneck – “We share information with our community about organ and tissue donation. Many in our faith community have had life-saving transplants. They serve as living proof to others of the power of the gift of life.”
National Donor Sabbath - Ways to Participate
The following details ways to get involved in supporting NJ Sharing Network’s National Donor Sabbath activities:
· Ask your faith leader to speak about organ and tissue donation at an upcoming service (or request a speaker from NJ Sharing Network).
· Encourage members of your congregation to talk with their families about registering as an organ donor.
· Visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org/Donor-Sabbath for shareable resources, including flyers, videos, and social media graphics.