NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — Matthew Altiero, a Life Scout in Boy Scout Troop 856 in North Caldwell and a senior at West Essex High School, is working on an Eagle Scout project to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation. 

Altiero's interest in the subject began when his aunt, Lori Altiero, received a kidney from a deceased donor on June 1, 2016 after being on the recipient list for seven years. When it became time to decide on a project, he wanted to choose something that would have a profound impact on the lives of many as well as raise awareness to this desperate situation. 

There currently are 115,000 people in the United States waiting for organ donations, including about 4,000 New Jersey residents. About 20 people die each day while waiting for a transplant. Just one organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and restore the health of 75 others.

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"Given the current COVID-19 environment, this project has proven to be very challenging," said Bob Altiero, Matthew's father. "The typical means of carrying out such a project may not be received well by the community. You would typically have a door-to-door campaign and have information tables outside retail establishments to help. In this environment, people may be less likely to open their door or stop to talk to volunteers outside local stores. To help communicate this message safely, he created QR codes. This will allow people to safely scan the code with their cell phones and will take them to two websites."

The first of these websites will tell Matthew’s personal story of why he got involved in the cause. The second site will be the NJ Sharing Network website, where anyone interested can learn about organ and tissue donation and register to become a donor if they so choose.  

"There is a severe need for organ and tissue transplants throughout the U.S.," Matthew Altiero said. "Donating organs and tissue can save peoples’ lives. This situation became clear to me when my aunt was in need of a kidney transplant. She was on the kidney transplant list for seven years when she received a kidney from a deceased donor. Being on the list for such a long time was a very stressful and anxiety-filled time for her."

Altiero is hoping enough people realize that a great need for donors exists.

"Raising awareness for organ and tissue donations is vital and can help suffering families," he said. "With my Eagle Scout project, I will be able to raise awareness of a huge problem. My project involves a door-to-door campaign in town as well as information tables set up in various, local retail establishments.  My hope is that more people will see the desperate need and will want to help."

The project will be accomplished three ways:

Door to door campaign. Fellow scouts will take to the neighborhoods of North Caldwell to help Matt communicate his story and bring awareness to this cause;
Information tables will be set up various retailers in the area over the next two weekends to distribute information to folks in the community with hopes of enlisting new registrants.

Information Tables will be set up on the following dates and locations:

ShopRite Supermarket located at 540 Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell,
Saturday Sept. 26, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Walgreens Pharmacy located at 397 US 46 West, Fairfield
Sunday Sept. 27, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 3, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 4, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.