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St. Joseph's Gets Circle of Life Award

Mourad Ismail, MD, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center (center), is featured holding the NJ Sharing Network “Circle of Life” Award with (l to r) Daniel Sarnowski and Pamela Sniffen, Hospital Services Manager with the NJ Sharing Network. Photo provided by St. Joseph's


PATERSON, NJ - The St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center Critical Care Team accepted the Circle of Life Award from the NJ Sharing Network for recognition of steadfast commitment to saving and enhancing lives through the miracle of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

“It was a great honor to be presented with the NJ Sharing Network Circle of Life Award for the partnership we have with NJ Sharing Network in our efforts to save lives and give hope,” said Mourad Ismail, MD, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center (SJRMC), who accepted the award on behalf of Alan Sori, MD and the Critical Care Team at SJRMC. “The Sharing Network works closely with physicians at St. Joseph’s to ensure the highest of care, respect and diligence occurs in dealing with potential organ donors. They provide purpose for what can be a very grievous time for all involved.”

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The NJ Sharing Network, is a non-profit organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for nearly 5,000 New Jersey residents awaiting life-saving transplants. During its 25th anniversary year the NJ Sharing Network is presenting awards to hospitals that show dedication to assisting with recovery of organs and tissue after a patient has passed away. Tissue recovered from one patient, such as skin, bone, heart valves and corneas, can enhance the lives of up to 50 patients.

There to share his story about the impact of organ donation at St. Joseph’s was Daniel Sarnowski, partner of Betsy Niles, resident of Montclair, who passed away in March 2011. “It was the darkest day of my life when I lost my beloved Betsy,” said Sarnowski, as he placed a photo of her by his side to tell her story.

Niles was involved in a motor-vehicle accident when she was hit at the Upper Montclair Train Station in a low-impact collision, which proved fatally damaging to Niles’ brain. While the accident shortened Niles’ life, Sarnowski was determined to become involved in the cause for organ donation in her absence. Sarnowski now volunteers with the NJ Sharing Network to speak about the family’s decision to donate Niles’ organs to improve the lives of others.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1 organ donor alone can save up to 8 lives. Currently in the United States an estimated 116,732 people are waiting for an organ transplant.

“This is probably the most satisfying charity work I have ever done,” said Sarnowski. “This is an organization where I can see a direct benefit.” This award in particular resonates strongly with Sarnowski as no more than 18 months earlier he accompanied Niles to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center for treatment following her accident. Sarnowski passed out personalized thank you cards to St. Joseph’s Healthcare System employees and graciously thanked the group of assembled physicians and medical staff for their support to organ donation initiatives and recognized them for their involvement in Niles’ case.

“Having hospital partners like St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center that continuously demonstrate their commitment to fulfill an organ donor’s final wishes gives more hope to the thousands of New Jersey patients who are on the transplant waiting list,” said Joseph Roth president and chief executive officer of NJ Sharing Network. “It is an honor to have such dedicated partners and we present our Circle of Life Award to these institutions as an expression of thanks for all they have done to support organ donation and transplantation.” 

NJ Sharing Network continues to advocate on behalf of individuals in need of life-saving and life-enhancing transplants and is a source of comfort for family members who make the courageous decision to donate a loved one’s organs and tissue.

“It is a wonderful thing, and it is very much something that a donor family member appreciates afterwards,” concluded Sarnowski to a room full of applause.

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