NJ Sharing Network volunteer and heart recipient, Joe DiSanto, recently presented Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) President and CEO Stephen K. Jones with a dedication rose that will be featured on the Donate Life Rose Parade Float on New Year’s Day.
Jones wrote a message attached to the rose vial that will join thousands of others that will be filled with roses to create the Dedication Garden featured each year on the Donate Life Rose Parade float. Each message will carry words of hope and remembrance; they will honor donors, recipients and others touched by organ and tissue donation.
“We are proud to support NJ Sharing Network and the Donate Life float and grateful to have Joe visit us here today,” Jones said. “Whenever one of our patients returns to our hospital to tell us how we have helped them - and to share their story of recovery to help others -we are so thankful. It means so much to us.”
DiSanto initially was diagnosed with heart failure at RWJUH when he was 11. Because of the life-saving care he received at the hospital in its Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, DiSanto became well enough to go to Columbia-Presbyterian in New York City, where he received his heart transplant at the age of 12. Today he is a 20-year-old student at Monmouth University.
“Because of my heart transplant I am here today, living a full life with my family and my friends,” DiSanto said at the Rose Dedication Ceremony. “I want to thank my organ donor for my gift of life, and I want to thank all organ donors and their families for their generosity.”
DiSanto will personally take the rose vial to the Donate Life Rose Parade Float in Pasadena. He will be among the organ recipients who will ride on the float. His family will join him on the trip, which is sponsored by the NJ Sharing Network Foundation.
Since his transplant, DiSanto, who lives in Hillsborough, has become an advocate for donation.
“Joe is an inspiring ambassador for NJ Sharing Network and a tireless advocate for the gift of organ donation,” said Elisse Glennon, Executive Director ofthe NJ Sharing Network Foundation. “We are proud to sponsor his participation in the Donate Life float. We know he will continue to motivate others with the powerful story of his second chance at life.”
Joe Roth, President & CEO of NJ Sharing Network, said the rose dedication ceremony reinforces the already strong commitment NJ Sharing Network has to its hospital partners.
“Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital is a special partner to NJ Sharing Network,” Roth said. “They are a champion of our efforts to save lives through organ donation, and they also are a major transplant center in the state of New Jersey. All our hospital partners are critical to the mission to save lives through organ and tissue donation.”
The RWJUH Transplant Center, in collaboration with NJ Sharing Network, has performed a combined total of 50 heart, kidney and pancreas transplants to date in 2014. There have also been five organ donors from RWJUH, resulting in eight organs transplanted as well as 37 tissue donors resulting in more than 1,800 lives enhanced from tissue donation.