Learn about organ donation

Stories of Hope 

Behind every donation and every transplant, there’s a story. Click the names below to read the stories of courage and hope from donor families, living donors, transplant patients and recipients

Register as an organ and tissue donor today at www.RegisterMe.org

Do you have a donation story you'd like to share? Please email us at socialmedia@njsharingnetwork.org

 

Darryl Price
Transplant Recipient

 

Melissa Daza
Organ Donor

 

E. Denise Peoples
Transplant Recipient

 

Rebecca Beaulieu
Organ Donor

 

Jayla Sorenson

 

Michael Vamos
Transplant Recipient

 

Greta Clausen
Transplant Recipient

 

Jordan Greene
Living Donor

 

Ezequel Garcia
Donor Family

 

Emma Navarro
Transplant Recipient

 

Rabbi Ephraim Simon
Living Donor

 

Lakisha Bray
Donor Family

 

Sarah Steinhauser
Transplant Recipient

 

Nikhil Badlani
Tissue Donor

 

Rev. Dr. Valerie M. Griffin
Transplant Recipient

 

Roberto PerezRoberto De Jesus Perez
Organ Donor

 

Jim Rhatican
Transplant Recipient

 

Dr. Patrick Buddle
Living Donor

 

James Wood
Heather Prutzman and Joey Savage
Transplant Recipient and Organ Donor

 

Vernell Willliams
Vernell Williams, Ashley Startek and Deborah Martinez
Transplant Recipient and Donor Family


Alexander Patriarca
Organ Donor

 


Dawn Burke
Transplant Recipient


Basil Vorolieff
Transplant Recipient

 


Susan Diamond and Dorothea "DeDe" Duffy
Donor Family and Transplant Recipient


Kim Roumes and Bob Williams
Living Donor and Transplant Recipient

 

Damien Young
Damien Young
Organ Donor

 


Joseph Gery François
Organ Donor

 


Anthony Graceffo
Tissue Donor

 


Mae and Russell Howard
Transplant Recipient and Donor Family

 


Mike Strusiak
Transplant Recipient

 

Anshul Guha
Anshul Guha
Advocate 


Karen Ann Strittmatter-Sesta
Organ Donor


Adele Pullins
Patient Waiting

Brian Glennon
Brian Glennon
Living Donor


Kori Anderson
Transplant Recipient

Veronica Horvath
Donor Family


John M. Porter
Director for Trauma Services

Emma Rothman
Transplant Recipient


Mathew Pribish
Transplant Recipient


Cristal Davey, RN and Jason Manning
Advocate and Organ Donor


Gina Westhoven
Transplant Recipient


Naava Hess
Living Donor


Sham and Rajesh Karnani
Organ Donor and Advocate

 

 

Darryl Price
Darryl of Denville had barely been sick a day in his life when, at age 52, he was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The outlook for Darryl was grim, but a life-saving double-lung transplant gave him a second chance at life. He immediately began setting new goals, telling his medical team that he wanted to be running by the time he finished rehabilitation and playing tennis within six months of returning home. Now, Darryl is living life to the fullest. He participates in running events and shares his story as a volunteer for NJ Sharing Network. He’s also brushing up on his Japanese as he plans to tour Japan and create a travelogue to spark an appetite for adventure in others. “Honoring the gift of life means being the best version of yourself that you can be by inspiring and encouraging those who sorely need inspiration and encouragement,” said Darryl. 

 

Melissa Daza
Melissa was well-known and loved in her community as the owner and operator of Daza’s Subs and Deli in Keyport. Melissa’s husband James, and their six children, Justina, Nicolina, Haliemarie, William, Alexia and Angelina, remember her as a beautiful person inside and out who was tirelessly devoted to her family. “Melissa was our entire world,” said James. “She was always strong, caring and loyal, and the best mom a child could ever have.” James and Melissa’s mother, Anna Dockery, were both able to find some comfort after her passing when they supported her wish to give the gift of life to others. Melissa’s liver, kidneys and lungs saved four people who were awaiting life-saving transplants. 

 

E. Denise Peoples
Denise of Newark was diagnosed with a debilitating lung disease despite the fact that she never smoked and had no family history of the condition. After a successful double-lung transplant, she was inspired to educate others about the miracle of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Today, Denise is a Hospital and Community Services Coordinator at NJ Sharing Network, and she works throughout the year to promote our life-saving mission in local schools, faith-based organizations and community associations. “Because of my own transplant, I can share a unique perspective,” said Denise. “My life is fulfilled, and I find purpose every day in helping to spread the word and dispel any myths and misinformation about organ and tissue donation.”

 

Rebecca Beaulieu
Mary Beaulieu’s life was turned upside down when her daughter Rebecca (Becky) passed away in January 2019. Becky always required constant care and special attention from her mother as she was deaf, disabled and autistic. Becky’s sisters Amy and Mandie, her brother Paul Jr., and her many family members will always remember Becky’s smile, laughter, and sense of humor. Our family has felt a sense of comfort knowing that Becky’s donations have improved the lives of others, including a man in Illinois who received the gift of sight,” said Mary. Mary and her oldest daughter, Amy Marker, have gone above and beyond in supporting NJ Sharing Network. They have crocheted and knitted more than 50 blankets and contributed more than 100 yards of yarn for the Wrapped in Love program to support other donor families. Staying involved with NJ Sharing Network has helped us honor Becky while providing a healthy way to deal with stress and sadness,” said Mary.

 

Jayla Sorenson
Jayla of Toms River has a disorder known as kidney dysplasia and cystic disease, which has interfered with the development of her kidneys, limiting their ability to filter and clean her blood normally. As a result, she has steadily outpaced her kidneys’ functional capacity as the rest of her has grown from a 2-pound, 2-ounce infant born two months premature, to a vivacious little girl of normal height and weight who likes to dance, play outside, hug and kiss her dad, and master addition and subtraction. But the clock is ticking towards a more critical stage in Jayla’s condition that will eventually involve a pediatric kidney transplant. “Obviously, you don’t want anything to happen to your child,” said James Sorenson, Jayla’s father. “I want her to be able to grow up, to enjoy everything that she, that every child, is supposed to enjoy.”

 

Michael Vamos
Michael of Hazlet had suffered with Cystic Fibrosis for his entire life. During his teenage years, his lung function dropped to 17% and he weighed only 93 pounds. On March 11, 2016, Michael’s prayers were answered when he underwent a double-lung transplant at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “On my first breath, I coughed and it felt like a cannon because I had so much air in my lungs,” said Michael. “It had been so long since I breathed normally that I forgot what it was like.”  Now at 23-years-old, Michael is living a busy and active lifestyle. He works long hours as an emergency dispatcher, attends school and is focused on his career goal of becoming a police officer. Michael has also developed a truly special way to honor his donor. On the 11th day of each month, Michael and his mother go on the beach in Sea Bright to watch the sunrise and reflect on the generosity and selflessness of Michael’s donor.

 

Greta Clausen
Greta and her twin brother were born at 38 weeks and spent a short time in the NICU. A seemingly healthy baby, Greta was fussy and missing milestones. One night, she swelled up and was rushed to the hospital. That’s when doctors diagnosed her with a genetic cardiomyopathy which resulted in heart failure. At only eight months old, Greta underwent a successful heart transplant that saved her life. Now more than a decade later, she is a healthy and energetic teen. She loves to spend time with family and friends and looks forward to making money babysitting. Greta also uses her Instagram account to share her journey and educate others. Her first post shows her preparing to have blood drawn with the caption, “I have to get blood work sometimes to check my medication to keep me healthy. It’s no big deal.”

 

Jordan Greene
Jordan of Haskell knew that his father Sean’s life was in danger due to a rare kidney disease. “I love my dad so very much, and I couldn't stand to see him suffer,” said Jordan. Last year, just in time for Father’s Day, Jordan stepped up and gave his dad the ultimate gift by donating one of his kidneys to help save his life. Jordan and his father underwent surgery together, side-by-side. Today, Jordan and Sean are both doing great! Jordan graduated from the University of Hartford, and Sean is living a much happier and healthier lifestyle. We as a family have grown closer than ever thanks to this,” said Jordan. “It felt like I was giving life to the person who gave it to me. I hope that anyone who considers donating does it because it can really change someone’s life for the better!”

 

Ezequiel Garcia
Ezequiel of Newark has played a vital role in advancing our life-saving mission since his son Reinaldo (Rey) passed away in a tragic motorcycle accident in 2011 and became an organ and tissue donor. Today, Ezequiel helps guide our strategic efforts as a member of our Foundation’s Board of Trustees. His 26 years of experience working in the Newark Public School System and as an adjunct professor and supervisor at Kean University has provided leadership and knowledge to help power our community outreach efforts. Ezequiel has also proudly run in the New York City, Boston and Miami Marathons to raise awareness for NJ Sharing Network and honor Rey.

 

Emma Navarro
Emma of Lake Hiawatha was born with a congenital heart defect that evolved into a serious life-threatening condition as she grew into her teenage years. She suffered each day with abnormal heart rhythms and difficulty breathing. Ultimately, a life-saving transplant was needed when her heart would no longer function properly. Through the miracle of donation and transplantation, Emma is thriving today and is living a happy and healthy life. She now enjoys swimming, playing volleyball, and spending time with her family and friends – moments that she recognizes could never be possible without the gift of life that she received from her selfless donor.

 

Rabbi Ephraim Simon
Rabbi Simon of Chabad of Bergen County in Teaneck has spent his life trying to inspire others to live better lives, and his own selfless actions have served as a shining example to others. He is one of only a handful of living donors to have ever donated both a kidney and a part of his liver to save the lives of two others. The story of Rabbi Simon’s overwhelming generosity went viral, inspiring dozens of others to come forward for living organ donation. “As a rabbi, I do a lot of talking about love, doing things for others and altruism,” said Rabbi Simon. “It’s something we all speak about, but how often do we have the opportunity to really set ourselves aside for another? This was my opportunity to do that, and I didn’t want to let it go.”

 

Lakisha Bray
Lakisha of Plainfield is an incredibly strong and resilient woman who is spreading the importance of organ donation through her story of losing her daughter and sister. Lakisha’s daughter, Talea, was born with cerebral palsy and passed away just before her 21st birthday, but she was able to save three lives with her donations. Just six months later, Lakisha’s sister Tabitha died while waiting for an intestinal transplant. “I was touched on both sides - I was able to give the gift of life and had a family member not be able to receive the gift life,” said Lakisha. “I became an advocate for organ donation to honor both of their memories.”

 

Sarah Steinhauser
Sarah of Montville was born with a bronchi condition that made it difficult to catch her breath and, ultimately, a respiratory virus seriously compromised her immune system. Her life-saving double-lung transplant in 2018 gave Sarah a new lease on life. She will never forget the moment when her breathing tube was removed and, for the first time, took a deep breath without assistance thanks to her donor’s gifts. “It was mind blowing. It almost felt like a dream,” said Sarah. “Tougher than the physical recovery was accepting that I didn’t need that breathing tube.” Today, Sarah continues to monitor her health, but she is living an active and busy lifestyle and looks forward to a bright future of growth and achievement.

 

Nikhil Badlani
Nikhil of West Orange was a talented, fun-loving, caring and compassionate 11-year-old boy who loved life and lived it to the fullest. He was not just as a straight-A student and a gifted musician, but a loyal and loving young man who was always ready and willing to help others. His smile was infectious, and his sweetness was remarkable. In 2011, Nikhil was killed in a motor vehicle accident involving a driver who ran a stop sign. Following Nikhil’s tragic death, his family donated his corneas and heart valves, providing both the gift of sight and the gift of life to others. “He always saw the good in the world. He saw the world as beautiful,” said Sangeeta Badlani, Nikhil’s mother. “We are happy that someone out there can now see because of Nikhil’s gift.”

 

Rev. Dr. Valerie M. Griffin
Rev. Valerie, Chaplain at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, is loved and admired by all those who know her. She truly practices what she preaches and she never lost hope while waiting nearly three years for a life-saving kidney transplant. In November 2020, Rev. Valerie received the call that she had been waiting for! Her transplant surgery was a success, and she is now feeling healthier and stronger each day. "I am forever grateful for my donor who unselfishly gave me the gift of life. There are no words to fully express my deepest gratitude. This gift is like no other, and I will always keep my donor and his family in my thoughts and prayers.”

 

Roberto PerezRoberto De Jesus Perez
Roberto of North Bergen was an inspiration to all who knew him. As a student at William Paterson University, his career goal was to work for the United Nations so he could help people from Latin countries. Tragically, Roberto’s life was cut short when he passed away at the age of 18 as a result of a brain aneurysm. Roberto’s caring spirit lives on and he will always be honored for the five lives he saved through organ donation. “Roberto was an angel put on this earth for a short period of time, but the impact he created on people who knew him and the lives he saved is eternal,” said Maria Perez, Roberto’s mother. “The bonds I have created with the recipients of Roberto’s organs, family members who have lost someone dear to them and people in need of organs gives me back a piece of my heart that I lost.”

 

Jim Rhatican 
Jim of Berkely Heights  was placed on the liver transplant list after receiving the shocking news that he had just a few months to live. “I remember the doctor telling me that I would probably die, and he encouraged me to get my things in order,” said Jim. Two months later, Jim’s prayers were answered. It was the day after Christmas 2008 when he received the phone call and he heard his transplant coordinator say “Merry Christmas, we have a liver for you.” “Every day, I am thankful to wake up - all because one family decided to save my life,” said Jim. “My donor has given me the opportunity to see all of my granddaughters be born.” A retired teacher and coach of 35 years, Jim now speaks to students regularly through NJ Sharing Network’s High School Heroes Program. “I am continuously moved by students, teachers and parents who tell me their own stories and connections to donation and transplantation,” said Jim.

 

Dr. Patrick Buddle
“After almost 18 years and in retrospect, being a living donor has had a tremendously positive effect on my life,” said Dr. Buddle of Manasquan. “My hope for the future is that I continue to be a positive example and remain active in educating others about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation.”  Dr. Patrick Buddle exemplifies what it means to dedicate a lifetime of caring for others. In addition to providing world-class care to his patients for more than three decades, Dr. Buddle also donated one of his kidneys to save the life of a fellow physician. Today, Dr. Buddle continues to live an active lifestyle. He participates in our 5K Celebration of Life annually and will be running on Team Buck this September. He also serves as a strong and visible advocate for donation and is a member of our Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

 

James WoodHeather Prutzman and Joey Savage
Heather Prutzman, formerly of Newton, NJ, and now residing in Winter Haven, FL, faced unbearable loss when her son Joey passed away at the age of 25 due to a tragic car accident. However, it gave her peace to know that a special part of Joey will continue to live on thanks to his selfless decision to register as an organ and tissue donor. Heather was able to meet Jim, the recipient of Joey's heart. As she listened to Joey’s heart beat inside of Jim, she whispered, “I love you buddy always and forever.” In 2019, Heather’s touching story took another amazing turn when she underwent a successful spine surgery that included two pieces of Joey’s donated bones that were a perfect match! “This was Joey’s way of saying ‘Keep going mom, I got your back, you got this,” said Heather. “I know that Joey is rallying around me so I will never be alone.”

 

Vernell WillliamsVernell Williams, Ashley Startek and Deborah Martinez
Vernell Williams of Paterson has spent his entire life helping others. In 1997, Vernell and his longtime friend Anthony Davis co-founded the city’s Nifty Lions youth football team that has enabled hundreds of youngsters to blossom by learning discipline and teamwork. In 2015, it was Vernell who needed support as congestive heart failure and other serious health issues put his life at risk. Thanks to the generosity of an organ and tissue donor, Vernell’s life was saved through successful heart and kidney transplants. Three years later, Vernell had the opportunity to meet the family of his donor, Victor Startek. “When I met Victor’s mother, Deborah Martinez, and his twin sister, Ashley, I cried,” said Vernell. “I’ll be forever grateful and indebted to the Startek family. Victor literally saved my life.” Vernell now serves as an active volunteer in our local diverse communities to educate residents about NJ Sharing Network’s life-saving mission.

 

Alexander Patriarca
When Alexander Patriarca, 24, of Point Pleasant Beach, gave the gift of life, his parents Michael and Lucy Patriarca hoped to one day meet the recipients of their son’s gifts. With the assistance of NJ Sharing Network, the Patriarca family united with two of the four individuals whose lives Alex saved. In December 2019, they met with his heart and kidney recipient, Bill Hoffman. Surrounded by family and friends, they greeted one another with hugs and tears, exchanged small gifts, and took turns listening to Alex’s heart beat in Bill’s chest. Two months later, they united with Alex’s lung recipient Ed Walsh, and his wife, Tammy. The day Alex died was the Walsh’s son’s birthday, and Ed’s restored health was the best gift the young man could ever receive. “Out of our tragedy those families had a triumph,” said Michael. “I think it’s important that we connected with them and understand their stories.”

 

Dawn Burke
Dawn Burke of Keyport had been fighting the good fight against Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a disease that scars the lungs for unknown reasons. But her irreversible condition forced her to rely on oxygen therapy and she could hardly take a few steps without losing her breath. While Dawn waited for a life-saving lung transplant, she always kept a ‘don’t worry about a thing’ attitude and turned to the power of prayer and positive thinking. Dawn simply never lost hope, and the call finally came for her transplant. In the operating room at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, her transplant team played Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” - subtitled “Don’t Worry About a Thing” - in honor of Dawn’s love for music, particularly reggae. Today, Dawn is enjoying live to its fullest and it is her mission to spread the word about the gift she received in the hope of inspiring and encouraging others on the waiting list, providing reassurance as a living, breathing example.

 

Basil Vorolieff
Basil Vorolieff’s life-saving liver transplant in 2019 changed his perspective on life, and he has dedicated much of his time to helping others. Although Basil, a resident of of Hawthorne, has shared his story with individuals and groups countless times, he still gets emotional talking about his experience. “I think everyone wants to do something that’s heroic in their lifetime,” said Basil. “What would be more heroic than becoming an organ donor and making your last act on earth saving a life?” Basil is also well-recognized in our transplant community for competing in the Transplant Games, winning several medals in darts, golf and corn hole. Basil sent one of his medals to his donor family as a symbol of his gratitude. This helped establish a strong connection and Basil has even met the husband of his liver donor.

 

Susan Diamond and Dorothea "DeDe" Duffy
One morning, seemingly out of the blue, Susan Callari Diamond’s 2-year-old son, Ben, woke up sick and started suffering seizures. Ben’s condition worsened and he never recovered, dying of what doctors believe were complications from the flu. Susan, from Middletown, did not hesitate when asked if she would donate Ben’s organs. “I said, ‘This is it. This is his reason on earth,’” she recalled. “It was not even a question.” Two years later, Susan met the recipient of Ben’s kidneys, Dorothea "DeDe" Duffy and they quickly became great friends. DeDe had been suffering from kidney failure since 2010 due to an autoimmune disease. After several attempts for a donor match, doctors found an ideal transplant match in Ben’s kidneys. “In the wake of unimaginable tragedy, life every day is challenging,” said Susan. “The fact that I can get on the phone with DeDe and giggle like schoolgirls is a blessing that I cannot even begin to explain.”

 

Kim Roumes and Bob Williams
Bob Williams of Roxbury, the on-air radio voice of New Jersey Traffic North, is back in the NJ 101.5 studio and enjoying life after receiving a kidney transplant, thanks to longtime neighborhood acquaintance turned living kidney donor, Kim Roumes. “Kim saved my life,” said Bob. “There are no words that can properly describe the love I have for this selfless and caring human being.” When Kim learned on Facebook that Bob needed a kidney transplant, she simply thought, ‘that’s what neighbors are for!’ She went to Saint Barnabas Medical Center and left feeling confident that she would follow through with donating if she proved to be a suitable match. The next day, Kim and her daughter’s jaws dropped when they ran into Bob at a local restaurant. She surprised Bob when she informed him that she was the prospective donor he recently had heard about. “We hugged a million times, and we knew it was a sign that things would work out,” said Bob.

 

Damien YoungDamien Young
Jessica and Jonathan Young of Little Egg Harbor have been coping with grief since their 9-month-old son Damien tragically passed away. “The pain of losing a child is something that no parent should ever have to feel,” said Jessica. “However, we are fortunate to be surrounded by family, loved ones and the caring group at NJ Sharing Network.” Jessica and Jonathan, are grateful that they made the decision to donate Damien’s organs and tissue for transplant. Damien’s heart helped save the life of a 9-month-old girl and his liver saved a 1-year-old boy. “NJ Sharing Network’s Family Services Coordinator Sara Patterson and the staff at Jersey Shore University Medical Center comforted us and provided the best possible support, said Jessica.” In tribute to Damien, the NJ Sharing Network flag was raised at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Family and friends showed up, stayed safe and gave honor to their hero.

 

Joseph Gery François
Joseph Gery François (Gery) of Maplewood epitomized what is means to devote his entire life to caring for family and friends. He sacrificed his professional career as a CPA in Haiti to bring his wife and children to the United States for safety and a better life. “My husband spoiled us so much. He was my lover, protector and my best friend,” said Rose-Danielle François, Gery’s beloved wife of 22 years. “Gery was a very practical man, and I know if he was able to talk that day he would say ‘yes, let’s save those people’s lives,’” said Rose-Danielle. Thanks to Gery’s gifts, the lives of three others were saved through successful liver and kidney transplants. Gery’s tissue donation of bone, skin and cornea also enhanced the lives of countless others. “Giving the gift of life is truly a blessing, and I am thankful for the support of NJ Sharing Network during this difficult time for our family,” said Rose-Danielle.

 

Anthony Graceffo
Julie Wodtke-Graceffo was devastated when her husband Anthony passed away in December 2020. She will always remember Anthony for being “one-of-a-kind” with a unique energy and caring spirit that rubbed off on everyone around him. Julie now finds some relief in knowing that Anthony gave the gift of life to help others. “To save a life, to improve the quality of life for another human being, while your loved one leaves this world is comforting,” said Julie. “For me it was like completing the circle that was Anthony's life in the most positive and respectful way. I am forever grateful for the caring support of the wonderful team members at NJ Sharing Network and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.”

 

Mae and Russell Howard
Making life-saving connections has always been a part of our mission at NJ Sharing Network. But NJ Sharing Network played a key role in making a true LOVE connection for Mae and Russell Howard of Monroe. “I remember we were randomly matched up to share our personal stories during a community fair at Keyport High School,” said Mae. “I knew right away there was something very special about him, and we became instant friends.” Mae was inspired to become a volunteer a few years after her successful heart transplant surgery in 2002. Russell’s link came after his wife Patty passed away and his family found some relief in knowing that Patty’s gifts helped save and enhance the lives of others. Mae and Russell’s friendship soon turned into true love. They recently celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary, and their loving family has multiplied with four grandchildren and another one on the way!

 

Mike Strusiak
Mike Strusiak of Basking Ridge was an active and seemingly-healthy father of four daughters. But a diagnosis of renal cancer required the removal of both kidneys and, ultimately, years of dialysis. In 2007, he was fortunate enough to receive a kidney and pancreas transplant. Since then, he has seen his four daughters graduate college, walked three of them down the aisle, and is enjoying his six grandchildren with a seventh on the way. But Mike’s story doesn’t end there. He also met and married the love of his life, Lisa Colasurdo, in July 2018. Michael and Lisa chose to honor his donor, Kristen Theresa O’Hara, by exchanging vows in the Landscape of Life Meditation Garden at NJ Sharing Network. Mike’s “angel,” as he refers to Kristen, was a 19-year-old basketball player at Jackson Memorial High School who passed away in a motor vehicle accident.

 

Anshul GuhaAnshul Guha
Anshul Guha, a senior at Montgomery High School, has excelled in national and regional math competitions, and even started Countdown, his own tutoring service in which he has taught dozens of local children. But Anshul’s success has not come without some challenges. Shortly after Anshul began 10th grade, he was diagnosed with keratoconus, a severe eye disorder that caused complete vision loss in his left eye. One week after his Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL) surgery, Anshul listened to a powerful presentation in school from a NJ Sharing Network volunteer. “I was immediately inspired to help raise awareness and support organ and tissue donation,” said Anshul. “That’s when I made Countdown much more than just a tutoring service. I use it as a platform to discuss organ and tissue donation with students and their parents.” Anshul has contributed all of his Countdown tutoring proceeds to support the NJ Sharing Network Foundation. To date, Anshul has raised $10,000!

Karen Ann Strittmatter-Sesta
Karen Ann Strittmatter-Sesta, a lifelong resident of the Edison/Woodbridge/Iselin area, will always be remembered by her loved ones for her selfless nature in putting the needs of others first. Karen spent her entire professional career providing compassionate care to patients in all settings, including nursing and group homes, home health care, rehabilitation facilities and an extended recovery unit for those affected by traumatic brain injuries. She also cared for her brother, Tommy, who, prior to his passing, was bed-bound due to severe medical issues. Karen’s family has found some peace in knowing that her organ and tissue donation helped make a lasting impact on the lives of others. Karen’s gifts of her liver and kidneys saved the lives of three people through successful transplants. Karen also enhanced the lives over 75 individuals through her tissue donation.

 

Adele Pullins
Adele Pullins of Union City is loved by her family and friends for her vibrant personality and caring spirit. Her positive energy has always inspired those around her, including her teenage son Trevon. But most people who meet Adele find it hard to believe that she is currently waiting for a life-saving heart transplant. “The toughest part for me right now is accepting that I just can’t live the same way that I used to,” said Adele. “I only have enough energy to do one thing at a time now. Before, I was always on the go - working hard every day and rushing around to clean, cook, take walks and run errands.” While Adele’s heart condition may have taken away some of her stamina, she feels blessed to be alive and is optimistic that her health will be restored someday soon through a donated heart and transplant surgery.

 

Brian GlennonBrian Glennon
Brian Glennon of Caldwell, NJ, made an altruistic living kidney donation that helped Saint Barnabas Medical Center kick off the longest single-hospital kidney transplant chain in the nation that has touched the lives of 64 people (32 recipients and 32 donors). Brian’s selfless decision to make an anonymous donation saved the life of Hayley Tsia of Marlboro, NJ, whose kidney function was severely compromised by lupus, and her daughter, Jocelyn was not a match to her mom. Jocelyn continued the paired exchange chain by donating her healthy kidney to a stranger. Although many altruistic living donors never get to meet their recipients, Brian, Hayley and Jocelyn came together for the first time on NBC’s Today Show, and their donation chain has garnered international media attention. “With living donation, I think the beauty of it is that it not only benefits the organ recipient, but it benefits the organ donor. My life feels more complete,” said Brian.

 

Kori AndersonKori Anderson
Kori Anderson MMS, PA-C of Belleville, is passionate about caring for the physical and mental health needs of her patients as a Physician Assistant and Director of Administration at North Jersey Health. While Kori’s many accomplishments are the direct result of her boundless energy and ability to connect with her patients, she remains mindful of her own life-saving liver transplant and generosity of her donor who gave her the gift of life. Kori and her husband, Glenn Praschil, actively support NJ Sharing Network through volunteering and generous contributions to the foundation. “Organ donation gives others a second chance at life and the selfless donor lives on through others. I’m living proof of that,” said Kori. “Now I work every day to give that second chance to others, who are living with debilitating psychiatric illnesses that people lose their lives to every day.

 

Veronica HorvathVeronica Horvath
Veronica Horvath of Chatham was only eight-years-old when her father, Richard, passed away following a tragic accident while working at a construction site. Her family’s grief was beyond measure, but they found some comfort in knowing that they honored Richard’s wishes of being an organ donor. “My father’s gifts of his kidneys and liver saved the lives of three people. He became a true hero that day and he will always be a hero in my heart,” said Veronica. In 2013, Veronica’s powerful connection to donation continued when she began her career at NJ Sharing Network. “I now have the honor of speaking with families, and I understand the many emotions that they are feeling while at the bedside of a loved one. It makes me take a pause because I always want to do what is right to support them,” said Veronica.

 

John PorterJohn M. Porter
John M. Porter, MD, FACS, Director of the Cooper Center for Trauma Services, epitomizes what it means to be a lifesaver. For nearly 30 years, Dr. Porter has been providing surgical care for patients in critical condition, including many unfortunate victims of car crashes, gun shots, industrial injuries and other unthinkable emergencies. Dr. Porter and his world class team save the lives of patients that others cannot. However, the most difficult part of Dr. Porter’s job is when the life of a patient cannot be saved. “We are always trying to save lives, but when we can’t, we can try and save more lives through organ and tissue donation,” said Dr. Porter. “The decision to be a donor is simply the right thing to do. I have witnessed firsthand how donation can help families find some relief and gratitude in knowing that their loved one’s death was not in vain and that it helped give the gift of life to others.

 

Emma RothmanEmma Rothman
Emma Rothman of Cranford recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of her life-saving heart transplant and also graduated from Syracuse University. She is humble and always thankful for her donor. “Everything after my heart transplant was working towards moments like this,” said Emma. “It motivates me to appreciate the day to day – being able to have life experiences without my health dictating what I can and cannot do is a blessing. I owe all of this to my organ donor’s act of extraordinary humanity.” In 2013, Emma and her family established Hearts for Emma, a 501 (c)3 organization that provides assistance to families of children with heart disease, and supports educational initiatives related to heart transplantation and promotes awareness of organ and tissue donation. As part of a joint outreach effort, Hearts for Emma established a Partner Fund within the NJ Sharing Network Foundation that has raised more than $50,000 since its inception.

 

Matthew PribishMathew Pribish
Linden Firefighter Mathew Pribish has shared his personal heart transplant story to educate the community through speaking engagements and public service announcements with Linden Mayor Derek Armstead and the Linden Police and Fire Departments. More than a decade ago, Mathew’s cardiologist detected that he had Marfan Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that affects the heart, joints and other parts of the body. On June 27, 2017, a successful heart transplant gave Mathew his life back. “I never thought that the day would come where I could return back to active duty,” said Mathew. “But thanks to my donor, my doctors and NJ Sharing Network, this dream became a reality. I hope that my story can give hope to others that may need a transplant to inspire them to keep the faith.”

Matthew Pribish

Cristal Davey
Cristal Davey, RN, at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center, proudly advocates for organ and tissue donation by volunteering her time during the hospital’s community outreach efforts. A resident of Colonia, Cristal learned about donation when her brother, Jason Manning, tragically passed away in January 2020. Jason was a registered donor and was able to give the gift of life to others. Jason’s left kidney and liver saved the life of a 55-year-old man and his right kidney saved a 62-year-old woman. At the time of Jason’s death, Cristal was about to begin her final semester at nursing school while working and raising her four children. She believes that Jason’s selfless decision to donate helped inspire her to overcome her challenges and complete her schooling. “The time I spent at Jason’s bedside were powerful moments that helped me experience the amazing work of the hospital staff and NJ Sharing Network team,” said Cristal.

 

 

Matthew Pribish

Gina Westhoven
Gina Westhoven of Lodi has an energetic personality and zest for life that her family and friends love. But four years ago, Gina’s began to face serious health issues for the first time in her life. She felt zapped of energy, and, at times, she struggled to breathe and walk. The medical staff at Chilton Medical Center diagnosed Gina with congestive heart failure (CHF). On December 14, 2020, Gina received the phone call that a heart was available. The next day, she underwent a successful transplant surgery at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “My heart is my new best friend – to honor my donor, I know I must protect it,” said Gina. “Sometimes it feels like this has all been just a dream. But when I look in the mirror, I see my scar and it reminds me that I am truly alive. I keep telling my family, friends and co-workers that ‘Gina Version 2.0’ will be better than ever!”

 

Naava

Naava Hess
Naava Hess of Linden is part of loving family devoted to helping others in need. Naava, her sister and her mother are all living donors and her father is undergoing the preliminary testing to be a living donor as well. For Naava, living donation was an easy choice to make. “After educating myself more and more, I understand well that a second kidney is really an organ that, for most people, is a bonus,” said Naava. “In our family, we call it #shareyourspare.” Naava’s ‘spare’ saved the life of a 37-year-old man who had been waiting for a transplant for several years. “We all have opportunities in this world to make a difference - the chance to give a family the ability to be together, to heal one person, one family, when so many are in need,” said Naava. “I would do it again - a million times over if I could.”

 

Sham

Sham and Rajesh Karnani
Rajesh Karnani of Paramus and his family members were devastated when his father, Sham C. Karnani, unexpectedly passed due to heart complications on March 17, 2010. Rajesh recalls how his father always spoke about his strong support for organ and tissue donation. His father’s selfless decision to be a donor ultimately restored sight for two other people with his donated corneas. More than a decade later, Rajesh has made it his personal mission to inspire others to register as organ and tissue donors. He actively supports NJ Sharing Network’s community events, activities and fundraisers to help raise awareness. “My father would often say, ‘When it comes down to it, we can’t take our organs on our journey to heaven. We don’t need them, so why not give others the opportunity to complete the rest of their journey in the present,’” said Rajesh.

 

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