HOLMDEL & RED BANK, NJ: National Donate Life Month is honored and celebrated every April, featuring activities to help encourage people to register as organ and tissue donors and to celebrate those who have saved lives through the gift of life. On Friday, April 12th, designated as the date for NJ Sharing Network's "Show Us Your Donate Life Colors," Hackensack Meridian Health Bayshore Medical Center and Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Medical Center administration and staff, showed support for the cause by wearing blue and green, the official colors of organ donation awareness. 

Both Medical Centers held an individual special flag raising ceremony to honor all the donors and their families who selflessly made the gift of organ, eye and tissue donation. The flags were signed by many members of the hospital administration and staff to display their support of National Donate Life. There is a need for lifesaving organ donation and Hackensack Meridian Health is working to raise awareness, therefore increase registrations. 

Frank Citara, Chief Health Executive of Bayshore Medical Center commented, "We are privileged to work so closely with NJ Sharing Network in addressing the statewide need for donors. Every person who registers as a donor can have a vast and lasting impact on others. One organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and restore health to over 75 others, the gift we are promoting today is immeasurable--the gift of life."  

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This Hackensack Meridian Health initiative is in partnership with NJ Sharing Network, a non-profit organization responsible for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue for those in need of a life saving transplant.

According to NJ Sharing Network, there is an extreme need for registered donors; nearly 4,000 NJ residents are currently awaiting transplantation, and across the country there are nearly 114,000 Americans on the waiting list.  NJ Sharing offers an entire month of local, regional and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors, and to celebrate those who have saved and improved the lives of others through the gift of donation.

“This is such a special campaign,” said Kelli O’Brien, Chief Health Executive at Riverview Medical Center. “The importance of organ and tissue donation cannot be overstated. We were proud to be recognized for our efforts in 2018 by receiving the Platinum status from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of a nationwide campaign. We plan on continuing to actively promote enrollment in state organ donor registries and raise awareness about the need for organ donors.”

VIDEO: Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Medical Center's Chief Health Executive; Kelli O'Brien and Nurse Manager of the Critical Care Unit Judy Suko, represent the Riverview flag raising ceremony in the video here:

Judy Surko, Nurse Manager Critical Care Unit comments, "First I want to thank our senior management here at Riverview with our involvement in the National Donate Life Month...Today is about the person and the family that has the foresight to share with someone else the gift of life...Most importantly thank you to all of the individuals and families who often during one of the most tragic times of their lives selflessly chose to provide the opportunity for others to continue their lives. There is no more precious gift than the gift of life." 

Present for the ceremony at Riverview Medical Center was MaryJean Riccardi, the aunt of Courtney Dayback, a 2007 Holmdel High School graduate, who tragically passed on her 19th birthday, as a result of sudden cardiac arrest.  Riccardi comments, "My niece Courtney was full of love and life and fun. She was so special. She loved children, and was studying to work as an educator. She loved butterflies and her favorite color was orange...Courtney loved her family and her boyfriend and she was so caring and giving. Her parents, my brother is her father, made the selfless decision that we all believe Courtney would have agreed with; seven of Courtney's organs were donated to save seven lives. We have a big family and we all love and miss Courtney so much."  

Courtney Lynne Dayback had the power to change the world, to save seven lives--the gift of life to span generations. Courtney's family participates in fundraising events for NJ Sharing, annually participating in a 5K for Team Courtney, honoring and remembering the beautiful girl who always made the world a better place and continues to do so.  

Shortly after Riverview Medical Center raised their flag, members of Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, gathered to recognize the special day and raise their flag that also bears many employee signatures committed to the initiatives of NJ Sharing Network.  

Bayshore Medical Center Surgical Nurse Manager, Christopher Siciliano made the heroic decision to become an organ donor, when he was made aware that a friend that he met in earlier years at college that he had lost touch with for 10 years, was in desperate need of a kidney. Siciliano found out he was a match, which is rare, and after discussing the idea with his family, made arrangements to be his friend's kidney donor. Siciliano comments,  "As much as it was my decision, my family decided as well that it was the right thing to do. The surgery was last fall and he's doing very well. I'm on the surgical caretaker side every day in my work, so it was a  for me to be on the patient side and understand better what my patients go through. I've always been interested in organ donation, it's pretty great that you can give something to help others and you still can remain whole. My nanna suffered with dialysis and I saw how much she suffered and I did not want my friend, a father to young children to have to continue suffering on dialyisis." Siciliano's friend is doing well with his new kidney and the two keep in touch often now. 

VIDEO: Hear from Bayshore Medical Center Surgical Nurse Manager, Christopher Siciliano, talk about his decision to become an organ donor: 


Organ Donation Facts:

  • Over 114,000  people in the U.S. are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant
  • In 2018 17,500 donors brought new life to recipients and their families.
  • 750,000 transplants have been performed since 1988
  • 95% of Americans are in favor of being a donor but only 58% are registered.
  • Nearly 4,000 of those people live in New Jersey
  •  20 people die waiting for an organ transplant each day
  •  8 lives can be saved by 1 organ donor
  • 75 lives can be improved  by the same donor’s tissues and eyes

For more information on Hackensack Meridian Health Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, visit: http://bayshorehospital.org 

For more information about Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Center in Red Bank, visit here: http://riverviewmedicalcenter.com

For more information about NJ Sharing Network visit: http://NJSharingNetwork.org

For more information about Hackensack Meridian Health click here.