Two years ago, Caldwell resident Elisse Glennon became the executive director of the NJ Sharing Network Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the state's organ procurement agency.
Glennon walks into work each day inspired by the foundation's mission to increase awareness, provide public education and fund research programs to increase the number of lives saved and enhanced through organ and tissue donation.
"We will not stop until everyone who needs a life-saving transplant, receives one," she told Patch after wrapping up a busy April, a.k.a. Donate Life Month.
Next, Glennon is focused on the second annual Share NJ 5K Race to Save Lives, a walk/run taking place in New Providence on Sunday, June 10.
1. What is the mission of NJ Sharing Network?
Our goal is to save and enhance as many lives as possible through the miracle of organ and tissue donation. The “gift of life” to another person would not be possible were it not for the unselfish gift of an organ and tissue donor. Honoring a donor’s final act of kindness, which ultimately saves lives, is a driving force for us at NJ Sharing Network.
2. Why should someone register to be an organ donor? And what is the easiest way to register?
Becoming a registered organ donor gives hope to the more than 110,000 people in this country who desperately need a transplant. Unfortunately, 18 people die each day while waiting for a transplant. Organs and tissue from one donor can save and enhance the lives of up to 50 people. I became an organ donor because I’m willing to help someone needing a life-saving transplant the same way I would want somebody to help me if I ever needed an organ.
Checking the “yes” box when you first apply for or renew your driver’s license or state ID is one of the easiest ways to become a registered donor. However, you don’t have to wait until you visit a Motor Vehicle Agency to sign up. You can also go to www.njsharingnetwork.org and click on the “Register to Become an Organ Donor Today!” section at the top of the screen to register.
3. What are some common myths about organ donation?
Unfortunately, there a few misconceptions about organ and tissue donation that we at NJ Sharing Network work to clarify so the public better understands this life-saving process. Since joining NJ Sharing Network, I’ve heard people say things like my religion forbids me from donating my organs. The truth is all major religions support organ donation and view it as the greatest gift a person can give.
There’s also the misbelief that registered organ donors that are admitted to the hospital will not be treated as aggressively because of the need for organs. This is simply not true. The decision to be a donor will in no way affect the level of medical care a sick or injured person receives. The team of doctors and nurses involved in treating a patient is not involved with the transplant/recovery team, which is called in only after death has occurred.
4. Donate Life America recently partnered with Facebook? How does the new Facebook feature work?
Facebook users are now able to declare and update their organ donation status and share this information with their Facebook friends. People who are not donors can also link to state online registries through Facebook and register. Donate Life America’s partnership with Facebook enables us to use social media to reach millions of people who may know very little about organ donation.
5. Last year you launched the Share NJ 5K and the second annual event is coming up. Tell us about the event.
The Share NJ 5K Race to Save Lives is a walk/run that gives our community an opportunity to help raise awareness about the critical need for organ donors. More than 4,000 participants joined us last year to publicly honor those individuals who have given the “gift of life” to others and celebrate with those who have received a life-saving transplant. It was so moving to see donor families, recipients, hospital partners and transplant centers, people of all ages from across the state come together in this family-friendly event that raised over $450,000 to support our critical mission. We are well on our way to exceeding last year’s numbers. Sign up is easy at www.ShareNJ5K.org.