Health & Wellness

Albanese Family Raises Awareness of Organ Donation

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Donna Albanese and her mother, Adele, speak out on behalf of organ and tissue donation at the Dairy Queen their family owns. Credits: Tom Fortunato
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Fanwood Councilwoman Kathy Mitchell reads a proclamation on behalf of Mayor Colleen Mahr. Credits: Tom Fortunato
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Scotch Plains Mayor Nancy Malool reads her town's proclamation. Credits: Tom Fortunato
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Roselle Park Mayor Joe Accardi reads a tear-jerking letter of heartfelt thanks that he wrote to the family of the donor of his wife's new lungs. Credits: Tom Fortunato
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Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, far right, gathers everyone together for a group picture. Six towns sent representatives to Dairy Queen that day to issue proclamations honoring April as Organ & Tissue Donation Month, and seven more towns sent in proclamations by mail. Credits: Tom Fortunato
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SCOTCH PLAINS / PLAINFIELD, NJ - The Abanese family of Scotch Plains held a special event in conjunction with the NJ Sharing Network on Friday at the Dairy Queen on South Avenue in Plainfield, which they’ve owned and operated since the 1970s, to bring awareness to the need for more registered organ and tissue donors.

On May 29th, 2002, Donna Albanese donated a kidney to save her mother, Adele Albanese, after Adele was diagnosed with a serious viral kidney infection.

“Why did I need to give a kidney from my body?” Donna explained, “Because there’s not enough organ donations to go around because people don’t ‘check the box’ [to be an organ donor].”

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“If I’m willing to receive,” Donna went on, “I should be willing to give. That’s the message here today.”

The Albanese family had a table set up in Dairy Queen with a computer on it, so anyone interested could register to be an organ donor online. The table would remain set up throughout the day in the event that any patrons that came in decided register.

Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs attended the event and made a proclamation that the month of April would be celebrated as Organ & Tissue Donation Month in her city.

“I used to say that doing a last will and testament was the ultimate gift you could give to your family,” Ms. Robinson-Briggs explained, “but I have changed my way of thinking, I now think organ and tissue donation is the ultimate gift.”

In addition to Ms. Robinson-Briggs, other mayors and council members from five neighboring towns attended the event as well, each issuing proclamations that April would be recognized as Organ & Tissue Donation Month. Scotch Plains was represented by Mayor Nancy Malool, and Fanwood was represented by Councilwoman Kathy Mitchell, who read a proclamation on behalf of Mayor Colleen Mahr. Seven other towns mailed in similar proclamations, the furthest of which being Haddonfield in Camden County.

Mayor Malool stated that from this point on, as she writes wills in her private practice as an attorney, she will always remember to ask her clients if they’ve considered becoming organ and tissue donors.

Roselle Park Mayor Joe Accardi, whose wife is a double lung transplant recipient, read a heart-wrenching letter of thanks that he wrote to send to the family of his wife’s donor.

“I thank you for giving me my wife back,” Mayor Accardi read, choking through tears, “I thank you for giving my children their mother back. I thank you for allowing this wonderfully strong woman to take the breaths that will lead to greater, even more amazing things.”

For anyone interested in more information regarding the NJ Sharing Network, please visit their site at http://www.sharenj.org

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