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It’s official! The U.S. has reached an historic milestone of over 1 million organ transplants!

Thank you to all the generous organ donor heroes and their families here in New Jersey, along with our hospital partners, volunteers, supporters, advocates and NJSN staff members who helped make this possible. We made life-saving history together! 💚💙
In honor of this momentous occasion, let’s remember there is still more work to be done to ensure those on the waiting list are transplanted.

Please share the news and ask everyone you know to register as an organ and tissue donor today at NJSharingNetwork.org/Register.

Learn more about the #LivingItForward initiative at LivingItForward.org. #1MillionTransplants

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The 2023 Donate Life Rose Parade Float

We are proud to announce the four honorees from New Jersey who will be part of the 2023 Donate Life Rose Parade Float! Join us as we celebrate these families leading up to this iconic New Year’s Day tradition. The theme of next year’s float is Lifting Each Other Up, featuring a spectacular Chinese street dragon as the centerpiece of the float symbolizing great power, good luck and strength.

The 2023 honorees are:

– Hailey Palumbo, Organ and Tissue Donor and Floragraph Honoree | Sponsored by the Sharing Network Foundation
-Tyler Rodimer, Organ and Tissue Donor and Floragraph Honoree | Sponsored by Dignity Memorial
-Leena Sandhu, Kidney Transplant Recipient and Float Rider | Sponsored by the Sharing Network Foundation
– Joey Savage, Organ and Tissue Donor and Floragraph Honoree | Co-Sponsored by the Sharing Network Foundation and MTF Biologics

Stay tuned over the next few months as we share more information about each of the honorees and the Donate Life Float. 💙💚

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August is National Minority Donor Awareness Month

Throughout the month and year round, our #DonationNeedsDiversity initiative honors the generosity of multicultural donors and their families, while also underscoring the critical need for people from diverse communities to register as organ and tissue donors. Click here to learn more and get involved.

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Heart recipient Sam Prince featured on ESPN’s “My Wish” Watch it here!

ESPN’s award winning My Wish series returned for its 15th season featuring heart transplant recipient and NJ Sharing Network volunteer Sam Prince! In April, Sam had his wish granted by the Make-A-Wish-Foundation to announce the NJ Giants first round pick at the NFL draft and his exciting and inspiring appearance went viral!

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Leonard Petruska of Hamilton, NJ, Celebrates the 22-Year Anniversary of His Life-Saving Liver Transplant

Leonard Petruska, 82, is taking time to reflect on the gift of life and the miracle of organ and tissue donation and transplantation as he celebrates 22 years since his life-saving liver transplant. Over the years, Leonard has also made it a priority to support donation and transplantation and by sharing his story with others, Leonard has encouraged more people to register as organ and tissue donors.

The following was written by Leonard to detail his liver transplant journey and highlight life’s precious moments made possible thanks to the gift of life.

In 1998, my life was great. I was the Eastern Regional Sales Manager for Nash Engineering, and my wife, Arlene, was a vice president of a large advertising company. We were proud that our three children, Alayne, Lenore, and Beth had graduated college and were gainfully employed. We were preparing to enjoy the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

On the Thursday before the holiday weekend, while out doing errands, I suddenly felt sick to my stomach and was bringing up blood. I left my car at the store, got a ride home and rested instead of going to the hospital. Unbeknownst to me, my daughter Beth spoke with my doctor who called me and ordered me to the hospital. It was soon discovered that I had a bleed in my liver and my pancreas failed. I was put into a drug induced coma. Thirteen days later, I woke up in the CCU and was very confused.

Several months later, I was told to get my affairs in order because I had only about 12 months to live. I desperately needed a liver transplant and was added to the transplant waiting list. I attended transplant support groups to help me cope with a wide range of emotions, including a feeling of guilt that another person would have to die for me to receive the gift of life.

During the Memorial Day weekend in 2000, Thomas Sozzi, a local business owner and amateur drag race car driver, was on his way home from parking his business truck when he was hit head-on by a school bus filled with school children and was airlifted to the trauma center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in critical condition. Thomas and his wife, Tracey, had a close friend who died awaiting a kidney transplant, so they were aware of the importance of donation. Tracey recalled Thomas saying if something ever happened to him, he would want his organs donated so others might live.

The following months were filled with recovery and rehabilitation. I was incredibly grateful for being given a second chance at life. Life took on a new meaning. I was more in love with my family and friends. Reading and music took on new importance. Everything about everything took on new dimensions and appreciation.

I felt compelled to write my donor family with the support of the NJ Sharing Network team. I remember that I wanted to make sure they received my letter just before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, Tracey called me and was happy to hear from me. We ended our conversation making plans for our families to meet the day after Christmas and we did – Arlene and I, our three daughters, and two grandchildren. We all remain in close contact and Thomas and his family will always be in our hearts and prayers.

A few years later, Tracey and I teamed up to do a volunteer presentation for NJ Sharing Network at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. She brought me to their trauma unit to do a little ‘show and tell’ for the staff so they could see me in person. Tracey showed them the miracle of organ donation and transplantation.

In all these years since my life-saving transplant, it is easy to forget my wait for this transplant until bedtime when I thank God and pray for Thomas and Tracey Sozzi, and their children Thomas, Nicole and Anthony.

Apart from general organ transplant protocol, I have led quite a normal life. I have seen my first daughter Alayne Morena raise Dan and Gabrielle as a single mom. I have seen Dan start a new company and marry Julie who is going to make me a great grandfather soon. Gabrielle became an NICU nurse and is in a relationship with Garrett. Another daughter Lenore prospered in large corporations spending several assignments in India. And to see my daughter Beth get married to Bob Pickell and raise Jack as well as twins, Cooper and Shane. And lastly, to spend more life with my love, my wife of 58 years, Arlene.

It was especially exciting for me to see Tracey get married to Michael Wilson and have a son, Michael. And every day, I remember that all these precious moments were made possible thanks to the gift of life.

(Left-to-Right) Arlene Petruska, Tracey Sozzi Wilson, and Leonard Petruska

Please register today as an organ and tissue donor. 💚💙

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NJ Sharing Network named a Best Place To Work in New Jersey for fifth consecutive year!

We are so proud and honored to be recognized by NJBIZ as one of the Best Places to Work in New Jersey for the fifth consecutive year!

As we celebrate 35 years of saving lives through organ and tissue donation, we give thanks to our staff whose dedication and compassion make our organization such a special place and our community of supporters for helping to make our life-saving mission possible. 💚💙

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Jeffrey A. Miskoff, DO, of Toms River appointed as Medical Director Supporting Statewide Organ and Tissue Donation Efforts

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Jeffrey A. Miskoff, DO, of Toms River, to the role of full-time Medical Director. Dr. Miskoff will oversee clinical management of potential organ and tissue donors and lead education efforts at donor hospitals.

“Dr. Miskoff is an experienced and enthusiastic healthcare leader who adds extensive administrative and clinical experience to our dedicated team,” said Carolyn M. Welsh, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of NJ Sharing Network. “He is a welcome addition to our NJ Sharing Network family joining Dr. John Radomski, who has served as Medical Director since 2005 and will continue in a part-time role focused on transplant center processes and surgical procedures. We look forward to working collaboratively to reach new heights in saving lives through organ and tissue donation.”

Dr. Miskoff specializes in Critical Care Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, and Sleep Medicine. He currently serves as an assistant professor at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine and a clinical instructor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

“I am honored to be a part of NJ Sharing Network’s mission to give hope for those waiting for a life-saving transplant,” said Dr. Miskoff. “I look forward to collaborating with our clinical team and healthcare partners to lead us to new heights in organ and tissue donation and transplantation.”

Dr. Miskoff was a Senior Partner at Shore Pulmonary, P.A. for 17 years. He also served as Chief of Pulmonary Medicine at Hackensack Meridian Health Jersey Shore University Medical Center for 10 years. Dr. Miskoff received his medical degree from Kansas City University. He completed his residency at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and Fellowship at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

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35 Years of Saving Lives

35 years ago, NJ Sharing Network was established with nine employees dedicated to our life-saving mission. Our team has grown to over 200 compassionate staff members, but our mission remains the same: saving and enhancing lives through organ and tissue donation and honoring our donors and their families for their generous gift of life.

Thank you to our hospital partners, volunteers, advocates and members of our donation community for 35 years of support. We couldn’t do what we do without you.

Read more about our 35 years of saving and enhancing lives through organ and tissue donation.

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It’s more than a 5K, it’s a Celebration of Life!

Join us on Sunday, June 5 in New Providence for our 5K Celebration of Life! Learn more at www.SharingNetworkFoundation/5K.

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Volunteers Crochet and Knit Shawls and Blankets to Show Love and Support for NJ Organ and Tissue Donor Families

National Volunteer Week was an opportunity to thank all volunteers who dedicate their time and talent to help others. Locally, dozens of volunteers from throughout New Jersey recently crocheted and knitted over 900 shawls and blankets to express love and support for families of deceased organ and tissue donors. Their caring efforts are part of NJ Sharing Network’s Wrapped in Love Program.

A team of volunteers came together at NJ Sharing Network’s headquarters in New Providence to package the donations and add personalized messages of support before distributing to organ and tissue donor families. Pictured at the ‘packaging meeting’ are local volunteers Adlinna Liang; Marilyn Esnes; Divya Tellakula; Grace Wamsteker; Janet Vigeland; Arlene Kaplan; Lisa Colasurdo, Coordinator for NJ Sharing Network’s Wrapped in Love Program; Janet Crowe; Noreen Reilly; Dede Duffy; Nancy Michael; Cathy Rooney; and Carol Kessler.

Marilyn Esnes of Berkeley Heights is a NJ Sharing Network Wrapped in Love volunteer who understands the positive impact a handmade shawl or blanket can bring to donor families.

“As the caregiver of a lung transplant recipient, my husband, I understand the difficult decision a loved one must make to give the gift of life to others,” said Esnes. “At the time I was sitting in the waiting room at the hospital for my husband’s life-saving transplant, I kept thinking of my husband and praying for the medical staff but also for the donor family. While I was very worried and scared, I thought of the family who made that decision to donate organs and what they were going through. My heart ached for them and what they must have been going through. I was so appreciative of their generosity and love. When I learned of NJ Sharing Network’s Wrapped in Love Program, I volunteered right away to help alleviate someone’s pain.”

Carolyn Welsh, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of NJ Sharing Network, is inspired by the overwhelming expressions of support of NJ Sharing Network’s volunteers.

“We applaud the compassionate efforts of our Wrapped in Love volunteers who selflessly offer their time and talent to support donor families,” said Welsh. “Our volunteers continue to provide comfort to families after suffering the loss of a loved one when it is needed most.”

NJ Sharing Network received the following messages from local families of deceased organ donors who received Wrapped in Love shawls and blankets:

Thank you for the beautifully handmade wrap that was crafted for me. It is a precious reminder of the gift of life that my son was able to give. We miss him dearly but find comfort in knowing that his gift lives on in others. We do appreciate your kindness.”

“Dropping a note to thank you for the beautiful handmade shawl. My husband passed away two years ago and every day I think of him as it was so unexpected. I was glad he was able to give the gift of sight to two people. My shawl will give me peace and comfort when I am wrapped in love. It was so very thoughtful of your organization.”

“Thank you for the beautifully crocheted lap blanket sent to me in honor of my husband’s ultimate generosity upon his death. He was an amazing man that I was blessed to share my life with, he loved everyone, and his heart overflowed. God bless you all.”

For more information about NJ Sharing Network’s Wrapped in Love Program, please call 908-516-5687 or email lcolasurdo@njsharingnetwork.org.