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A Publication of NJ Sharing Network

Spring/Summer 2018 | Volume 9 Issue 1



Mother of organ and tissue donor Dan Buckiewicz keeps son’s memory alive


Do you have a story to share?

JOE’S CORNER NJ Sharing Network’s 30th anniversary year ended on a high note— 2017 was the third consecutive record-breaking year for organ and tissue donation in our organization’s history. Year-end numbers show 554 successful organs transplanted and 789 tissue recoveries. We had the most organ donors ever: 190 people gave the gift of life, a 38 percent growth over the past five years.

OUR MISSION NJ Sharing Network is committed to saving and enhancing lives through the miracle of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES Howard A. Nelson, Chair Michael P. Hedden, Vice Chair Anthony L. Marchetta, Treasurer Bonnie Evans, Secretary Bruce I. Goldstein, Esq., Immediate Past Chair John Creel Edward J. Florio, Esq. Bruce Markowitz, ACHE Vito Pulito Ciro A. Scalera Nancy E. Shafer-Winter, MSN, RN, NE-BC, CPHQ Antoinette Spevetz, MD Timothy J. Touhey Charles G. Walker Ex-Officio Members Joseph S. Roth, President and CEO John Radomski, MD, Chief Medical Director Mark Zucker, MD, Advisory Board Chair ADVISORY BOARD Mark Zucker, MD, Chair Donna Ciufo, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, NE-BC, CCRN Gail Clegg Roseann DiBrienza, MS, RN Kristin Fless, MD FCCP Stuart R. Geffner, MD, MS Michael Gould, MD Lou Jablonski Sarah E. Jensen, Esq. Kelly Lemon James Lim, MD Debra L. Morgan, MSW, LCSW Shamkant Mulgaonkar, MD Anup Patel, MD, FACS John S. Radomski, MD Prakash Rao, PhD, MBA, FACHE, HCLD Bruce Stroever Harry Sun, MD Francis Weng, MD, MSCE Dorian J. Wilson, MD EDITORIAL TEAM Mara Barlow, Assistant Director, Marketing and Communications Alyssa D’Addio, Assistant Director, Philanthropy and Foundation Programs Amanda Abramo, Manager, Philanthropy and Foundation Programs Veronica Hovarth, Volunteer and Communications Coordinator John Valentine, Manager, Marketing and Communications Carolyn Welsh, Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Teresa Akersten, Writer/Editor Emily Fitterman, Graphic Designer Send comments to: editor@njsharingnetwork.org

Our accomplishments would not have been possible without the dedication of our staff (page 5), the excellence of our transplant laboratory, the commitment of our volunteer corps which completed over 6,400 hours (page 3) and, most of all, the generosity and compassion of the donors and their families (page 12). It was also a record-breaking year for our Foundation, which raised nearly $2 million in support of our life-saving mission. With nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents currently waiting for a transplant, there is always more work to be done. Two state laws passed in 2017 will go a long way toward spreading awareness (page 7) across our service area. Through the newly launched Personalized Transplant Medicine Institute (PTMI), advances in research and development will enable us to exponentially touch more lives (page 6 ). One of the newest members of our Foundation Board (page 4), Jane Buckiewicz, mother of organ and tissue donor Dan Buckiewicz, reminds us how donation is a rare and special gift in this issue’s cover story (page 8). While her son Dan wished to be an organ and tissue donor, her wish is to honor his gift and share his legacy so even more lives may be saved. This year marks my 20th anniversary at NJ Sharing Network. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this remarkable organization. So much of what was once considered a dream is now a reality. And the best is yet to come.

Joseph S. Roth President and Chief Executive Officer

FOUNDATION BOARD Marla Bace, Chair Randi Geffner, Vice Chair Philip S. Kolm, Vice Chair Dan Sarnowski, Treasurer Honorable F. Michael Giles, Secretary Cheryl H. Cohen, MBA, FHFMA Chris Bautista Jane Buckiewicz Patrick Buddle, MD J.D. de León Victor D. DiSanto

Sandy Erwin Ezequiel Garcia Laura Coti Garrett, MS, RDN Paul Jova Ron Oswick Elizabeth Stamler Bhavna Tailor Ex-Officio Members Joseph S. Roth, President and CEO Elisse E. Glennon, VP and Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Director, Foundation


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Sharing News Volunteer spotlight, staff recognitions, new Foundation board members I nnovations Advances in the lab—and NJ legislation— leading to more lives saved Cover Story By advocating for organ and tissue donation, a mother honors her son

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H  onoring Loved Ones The many ways we honor and remember organ and tissue donors L  et’s Get Social We share your posts and “signs of hope” S  ave the Date Donate Life Month, Advocacy Nights, Transplant Games of America

Celebrating 30 yearsof saving lives With the generous support of Presenting Sponsors Novartis and Mitch and Ali Kogen in memory of Riley Kogen, Platinum Sponsors MTF Biologics and RWJBarnabas Health, and numerous Gold, Silver, Bronze and Table Sponsors, NJ Sharing Network was able to raise almost $400,000 through our 30th Anniversary Gala in November. The evening supported our Foundation in exceeding its annual $1.8 million fundraising goal! Hundreds attended the gala at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, from transplant recipients, living donors, families of organ and tissue donors to NJ Sharing Network volunteers, board members and staff. We celebrated 30 years of saving lives by honoring our past and envisioning our future. There is always more work to be done, more lives to be saved, and more ways we can honor those who gave the gift of life.

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Cover Story Update

Tragedy Into Triumph “Life has moved on and I have found the courage to love again. I am blessed to have met someone who wants to always remember Mike although they never met, and encourages me to continue my work advocating for donation,” Pam says. “My life has been blessed with adventures and new friends—tragedy, triumph and a new trajectory in my journey.”

The Spring 2013 cover of Circle of Life magazine hangs above Pam Drozd’s desk at work. Every time she looks at it, she thinks about the laughs she shared during the photoshoot with the friends and family of her late husband, tissue donor Michael Drozd. The group is clad in his signaturestyle Hawaiian shirts. “The nine of us represented how Mike took people from different aspects of his life and wove them together. I am blessed that many of those people have remained in my life since his passing,” Pam says. The Mahwah resident has been actively volunteering with NJ Sharing Network since 2010. She has served as captain of Team “I am DROZD!” since the first 5K Celebration of Life, as a charter member of the Donor Family Council and as a presenter inspiring countless people to register as donors. “Telling Mike’s story has given me the opportunity to turn a tragedy into a triumph,” says Pam, who lost her husband after being married less than two years. “Losing Mike was devastating, but his donation helped 57 people have a better life.” Last year, Pam spoke at a reception for tissue recipient Turia Pitt held at NJ Sharing Network in conjunction with MTF Biologics. Turia received skin grafts from a dozen Americans after 65% of her body was severely burned in a bush fire in her native Australia. She included a passage about Pam and Mike in her book, Unmasked, which reads in part, “She told me she missed her husband every day but got an enormous sense of solace knowing that those people had lived because of his selflessness.” Pam, humbled to be included in the book, says, “I have not and may never meet one of Mike’s recipients, but witnessing how grateful and gracious Turia is was elating. I can only hope Mike’s recipients are as grateful.” This year marks 10 years since Mike’s passing. His donation may have officially touched 57 lives, but with the ripple effect of keeping his legacy alive the numbers must be MAHWAH FIREFIGHTERS Pam and Mike on immeasurable. their wedding day.

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CELEBRATING MIKE Each year, the size of 5K team “I am DROZD!” and the faces change. But the gathering is always a celebration with silly antics, bagpipe playing and, of course, Hawaiian shirts!

TYLER MALONE, with Pam Drozd and her brother Tim Malone, gives blood for the first time at a blood drive held by the Mahwah Fire Department in memory of his uncle. All are firefighters (as was Mike) with the MFD.


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Meet Our Volunteers Student Volunteer Clocks 174 Hours

Featured Contributor

Volunteer Erin Wong has been awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Erin reached the required hours in a 12-month period to earn a bronze level award in the young adult category. She helps out as an office volunteer and at the 5K Celebration of Life. She has also given her time to the Livingston Chinese School and Cerebral Palsy of Northern Jersey. The award celebrates “the impact we can all make in bettering our communities and our world.” Congratulations and thanks Erin!

Touched by Donation Checking the “yes” box at the Department of Motor Vehicles. That’s all organ donation meant to Kimberly Slaton…before it became personal. Kim was as close as “cousins” with Dr. Randall (Randy) Giles, an organ and tissue donor who saved five lives and enhanced the lives of 50 others when he passed away unexpectedly in 2012. The following spring, she was among the many family members and friends who gathered at NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Celebration of Life to honor Randy with Team Biff ’s Gifts. “Randy would give you the shirt off his back. He was always there for you or helped you find your way,” she explains. “I think he’s still doing that for all of us.” Over the last several years, Kim along with her nephew and Randy’s godson, Lavarra Hines, Jr., have become dedicated volunteers and advocates for donation. She now serves as co-captain of Biff ’s Gifts and is a member of the steering committee for the 5K Celebration of Life New Providence location.

“Randy would give you the shirt off his back. He was always there for you or helped you find your way.” Through the Donate Life Group of Greater Newark, she organizes and participates in programs which help bring awareness about

Robbie Kelly is not your average 18-year-

BECAUSE OF BIFF Team Biff’s Gifts Co-Captain, Kim Slaton and her nephew, Lavarra Hines, Jr., volunteering at the 5K Celebration of Life. donation to minority communities, including events during National Minority Donor Awareness Week and information tables at churches, colleges and street fairs. “I enjoy educating others about donation and the great things NJ Sharing Network does,” she says. “I think it makes a difference to share my story and make a personal connection.” Kim’s life continues to be touched by donation in new ways: an uncle and a cousin are both awaiting life-saving organ transplants. Thank you for all you do, Kim! We are lucky to have you as a volunteer!

Interested in volunteering? Email volunteers@njsharingnetwork.org. Spring/Summer 2018


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old. The Chatham High School senior has run his own landscaping business for nearly a decade. He’s also a young philanthropist. Robbie contributes proceeds from his business to NJ Sharing Network in memory of his father, John Kelly, who passed away unexpectedly when he was just 10-years-old. “My dad wasn’t registered as an organ donor, but once we found out he could donate tissue that was the easiest decision to make. We absolutely knew that’s what he would have wanted,” he recalls. Robbie has worn a green Donate Life bracelet ever since his father’s wake. Then, last year, NJ Sharing Network visited his health class to make a presentation on organ and tissue donation. He knew immediately it was time to get more involved. In addition to raising funds for our lifesaving mission, the teen participates and has been a sponsor of the 5K Celebration of Life. As a Certified Volunteer, he attends festivals and street fairs, where he shares his story and encourages others to register as organ and tissue donors. “It’s the ultimate way you can help your fellow man,” Robbie tells the people he meets. “Unfortunately, you lose someone but they are able to give it forward, live on and change somebody else’s life.” If you happen to be in Chatham, look for the landscaping truck with the Donate Life sticker! Thanks Robbie for your generosity and dedication!


New 2018 Foundation Board Members Welcome to the newly appointed members of our Foundation Board of Trustees. These six individuals each bring unique strengths, personal and professional experiences and diverse perspectives on donation to our organization. Our Foundation is committed to increasing the number of lives saved through innovative transplant research, family support, public awareness and education about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. We are tremendously thankful for the dedication and contributions of outgoing Board Members, Lenore Ford, Lisa Meyers, Suzann Rizzo and Peter Rooney, Jr., and know they will continue to serve as donation advocates for years to come.

ALL ABOARD From left, Chris Bautista, father of donor, Luke; Ron Oswick, husband of recipient, Tanya; Sandy Erwin, former NJ Sharing Network employee; Paul Jova, father of donor, Andrew; Jane Buckiewicz, mother of donor, Dan; and Patrick Buddle, MD, living kidney donor.

2018/2019 SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES Applications are being accepted for two scholarships available through our Foundation: Missy’s Miracle Scholarship Fund (awarded in honor of liver transplant recipient Missy Rodriguez) and the Betsy Niles Scholarship (awarded in memory of organ and tissue donor Betsy Niles). Both scholarships are in the amount of $5,000 ($2,500 per semester). To be eligible, the applicant must reside in New Jersey and be a full-time high school student entering college in the fall. The student must also be an advocate for donor awareness or have been personally affected by or is a family member of someone personally affected by organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

Foundation Chair Presents Awards to Board Member, Staffer Each year, the chair of our Foundation Board recognizes outstanding contributions to our life-saving mission made by a member of the Board and an employee of NJ Sharing Network. In December, Foundation Board Chair Marla Bace presented Board Member J.D. de León with the Chair Award and Tatiana Martinez, Performance Improvement Coordinator, with the Spirit Award.

CHAIR AWARDEE J.D. de LEÓN From the annual Golf Classic to the 30th Anniversary Gala, J.D. played an integral part in our Foundation’s success in 2017. Last year, he was also part of a well-received panel discussion at our Symposium on Organ & Tissue Donation, sharing his perspective as a kidney recipient from a living donor. We continue to be inspired by his tireless service to our Foundation.

The deadline for applications, available at www.NJSharingNetwork.org/Scholarship, is Tuesday, April 10.

SPIRIT AWARDEE TATIANA MARTINEZ Tatiana has served as both captain of the NJ Sharing Network 5K Team and as Chair of the Employee Giving Campaign. She continuously found creative ways to encourage all staff members to participate in Foundation programs and events. Her enthusiasm in these roles was truly contagious! Spring/Summer 2018


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Staff Spotlight Living Life to the Fullest

A Fine Fellow

Community Educator Keath Gerald was honored at the 2nd Annual Ubuntu Awards: New Jersey’s 30 Under 30. Keath, a heart and liver transplant recipient, was recognized under the Wellness category at the awards ceremony presented by Them Cloud Kids, a non-profit organization committed to empowering youth. He dedicated his award to “anyone who said ‘yes’ to donation.” After his life-saving transplants, Keath began volunteering with NJ Sharing Network. He now represents the organization as a Community Educator and has presented to more than 5,000 students across the state. He inspires teens to register as a donor, take care of their health and live life to the fullest. According to Them Cloud Kids, Ubuntu is “a South African Ideology comprised of behaviors that exude human kindness and compassion.”

After completing the year-long leadership training program, NJ Sharing Network Philanthropy and Foundation Programs Manager Kelly Bonventre was inducted recently as a Fellow of the Lead NJ Class of 2017. Kelly joins the network of more than 1,500 Fellows who strive to make New Jersey a better place to live and work. “Lead NJ brings together a highly select group of leaders to learn about the cutting edge issues facing New Jersey, link directly with talented leaders working throughout the state, and lead as a champion of their own most cherished ideas and values,” according to the organization. Another Lead NJ Fellow is in the making. Brooke Hartrum, Community Education Manager, will help spread our life-saving message as part of the Lead NJ Class of 2018.

My Donation Connection Jill Doherty,

daughter of an organ and tissue donor, Donation Resource Coordinator, NJ Sharing Network On January 23, 2012, I made the hardest decision of my life—to say goodbye to my hero and let him be a hero to others. Six years ago, I received a call that my dad was admitted with an anoxic brain injury. I arrived at the hospital with my family and a million questions. When a NJ Sharing Network transplant coordinator approached me and explained the potential of organ and tissue donation, I instantly said, “Yes.” Surrounded by my mom, aunts, uncle, grandparents and cousins, I shared my decision for him to be a donor. When I left the hospital that night, I told him I loved him, and that I was proud to be his daughter. I have since had the chance to honor and remember my father at donor family remembrance programs, by creating a quilt square with my mom, and by starting “Team Gene,” raising over $5,000 so his name could be on the Landscape of Life Wall. In October 2014, when I was close to finishing school, I came across the Donation Resource Coordinator position and decided

Photocredit: Brittany Allen

to apply. When I heard this position has high interaction with donor families, I knew it was somewhere I could make a difference. Here, I am able to connect with families with a special sensitivity and compassion. I also have the honor of working alongside the very people who cared for my dad. It’s amazing how he set me up to be exactly where I am supposed to be. Days before he passed, my dad texted me that he had written a new song. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I finally heard him sing it when we discovered a cassette tape labeled “2012 Through the Rain.” The song describes my dad’s grateful nature perfectly and we included a line from it on his quilt square: “I could spend a lifetime, loving all that I know.” Well, I could spend a lifetime just knowing I had a love like that.

Fit for a King As NJ Sharing Network celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017, so did one of our staff members! Donna King, Senior Laboratory Supervisor, joined the organization shortly after it was formed in 1987 and holds the distinction of being the longest tenured employee. Earlier this year, in front of the entire NJ Sharing Network staff, President and CEO Joe Roth shared a video featuring Donna (created with the aid of her lab colleagues) and presented her with an award in recognition of her loyal and dedicated service. Spring/Summer 2018


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Living Proof On National Philanthropy Day in November, NJ Sharing Network hosted for the first time a reception for living kidney and liver donors and their guests. Donors, who gave the ultimate gift—the gift of life—shared their experiences and discussed how to encourage others to consider the self less act of living donation. In the photo below, donors who attended the reception are lined up from the person who

donated longest ago to the most recent. The longest donated a kidney to her husband more than 18 years ago and the most recent donated a kidney altruistically just six weeks before the photo was taken. To learn more, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org/LivingDonation or contact Jan Hines, at jhines@njsharingnetwork.org.

Clinical Leadership Advances Life-Saving Mission

Seeing Into the Future

Both David O’Hara and Sharyn Sawczak have contributed to NJ Sharing Network setting records for lives saved through donation for the past three consecutive years. When NJ Sharing Network clinicians and staff need information and education on trends and best practices in the organ and tissue donation world, they turn to David O’Hara. David has been promoted to Director of Regulatory Compliance, Performance Improvement and Data Analytics. His role encompasses many crucial elements of the organization’s clinical operation, including analyzing data and resources to maximize the number of organs recovered and increase authorization rates. He joined NJ Sharing Network in 2011 as Assistant Director of Data and Information Analytics. Sharyn Sawczak has been promoted to the role of Director of Clinical Services, overseeing the entire process of organ and tissue donation. Over the past 11 years, Sharyn has played a crucial role in the organization’s success, earning her a leadership position where she improves and streamlines clinical processes and continuously mines data and best practices to further the organization’s life-saving mission. Formerly a registered nurse in ER, Trauma and Critical Care units, Sharyn joined NJ Sharing Network’s team in 2006 as a Transplant Coordinator.

“David is an invaluable asset to our clinical team, working continuously to improve our performance in saving more lives and ending deaths on the waiting list.” Carolyn Welsh, VP and Chief Clinical Officer, NJ Sharing Network

“Sharyn consistently exceeds expectations with her forward-thinking attitude, problem-solving abilities and effectiveness in advancing our role in organ and tissue donation.”

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In late 2017, NJ Sharing Network launched the Personalized Transplant Medicine Institute (PTMI), dedicated to research and development aimed at increasing the number of successful organ and bone marrow transplants performed. The PTMI’s multifaceted approach includes: Personalized Genomics: NJ Sharing Network has identified multiple genes that can help predict if a patient will begin to reject a transplanted organ. Additional gene panels can also predict graft organ viability. Assay Development: Our lab team has developed an enhanced test which could determine whether a transplant would be safe and successful. Living Kidney Donation: Working closely with their existing transplant programs, NJ Sharing Network believes they can increase the number of living kidney donors. Kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organ—and the most in demand. Regenerative Medicine: Our team has successfully procured, isolated and grown “adult” stem cells from research-consented deceased donors, and has decellularized organs that were not suitable for transplant, creating “scaffolds” for stem cell seeding. Through the PTMI, NJ Sharing Network stands at the forefront of innovations which will transform transplantology as it is known today.



Our Voices Are Being Heard

NJ Sharing Network joined health care professionals from partner hospitals around the state at the 99th Annual Meeting of the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA). Highlights included an awards ceremony honoring member institutions and individuals, an address by Gov. Phil Murphy and the installation of new officers. The NJHA is a non-profit trade organization “committed to delivering support and services to the state’s hospitals, health systems and other healthcare providers.” NJ Sharing Network’s van, right, was parked in a prime location, spreading our life-saving message to all attendees.

For over 30 years, advocates for organ and tissue donation and transplantation in New Jersey have worked tirelessly to shape public policy. The landmark NJ Hero Act, enacted in 2008, for example, mandated the availability of an online donor registry. The legislation also required public high schools, institutions of higher learning and colleges of medicine and nursing schools to provide information to students regarding organ and tissue donation. Thanks to our collective advocacy efforts and the support of state legislators in Trenton, two new laws were recently passed. Both hold potential for increasing the number of lives saved and enhanced through organ and tissue donation and transplantation.


Photocredit: Central Jersey Photo Booths

Front row, from left: Regina Cariddi, Hospital Services Manager; Jan Hines, Assistant Director of Hospital Services; and Amanda Trabilsy, Hospital Services Manager. Back row, from left: Tina Bezerra, Hospital Services Manager; Deanna Fenton, Hospital Services Manager; Hauwa Adeniji, Hospital Services Manager; Soon Benham, Hospital Services Manager; Janet Brown, Philanthropy and Foundation Programs Coordinator.

Top of Their Fields Dr. Stuart Geffner, longtime Director of Renal and Pancreas Transplant Surgery at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, was honored at the Israel Bonds New Jersey Health Professionals Dinner held at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston in December. Dr. Geffner was recognized for his outstanding achievements in medicine and his strong ties to his Jewish faith. Highlights from his distinguished career in transplant surgery include performing the world’s first robotic assisted kidney transplant surgery, a transplant on the youngest pediatric patient in state history, and New Jersey’s first laparoscopic kidney donation surgery and isolated pancreas transplant.

Dr. Stuart Geffner and Dr. Victor Parsonnet have saved thousands of lives and inspired many to live extraordinary lives. Among the NJ Hall of Fame Class of 2017 nominees was Dr. Victor Parsonnet. As a cardiac surgeon, Dr. Parsonnet implanted the first permanent pacemaker in New Jersey and completed the first successful heart transplant in the state. He retired in 2016 after spending more than 60 years at the forefront of his field at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. The NJ Hall of Fame acknowledges citizens with ties to New Jersey for their outstanding contributions to our society and culture. Spring/Summer 2018


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S-3141 (Codey) HEALTH INSURANCE CARRIERS in New Jersey are now required to provide subscribers written materials about organ and tissue donation and registration at each contract renewal. The legislation offers new opportunities to reach people directly every year while they are thinking about their health care.

A-4219 (O’SCANLON/BENSON) S-3282 (Kyrillos/Vitale) MINORS 14 AND OVER will be able to declare their desire to be an organ and tissue donor with the Motor Vehicle Commission when applying for non-driver IDs, driver’s permits or licenses. While parents may still override the decision of a child under 18, it is always helpful for parents to know their children’s wishes.


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LIFE AFTER LOSS A mother finds healing from tragedy while honoring the legacy of her son, organ and tissue donor Dan Buckiewicz


N May 2009, Daniel Buckiewicz surprised his family by coming home for Mother’s Day. Dan had recently renewed his driver’s license after turning 21. With his trademark humor, the handsome, 6’1” athlete showed off his new picture. “Someday someone’s going to get these green eyes,” his mother Jane Buckiewicz recalls him joking, “because, look, I’m an organ donor.” Days later, the unimaginable happened. Dan was involved in a car accident, suffering a traumatic brain injury from which he would not recover. When a transplant coordinator from NJ Sharing Network approached his parents about organ and tissue donation, the family already knew their son’s wishes. For Jane, honoring those wishes and keeping his legacy alive are of paramount importance. The family’s journey started with Zan’s Garden of Life at Jersey Shore University Medical Center (now a part of Hackensack Meridian Health System), where Dan’s name is etched in one of the pavers honoring organ and tissue donors. Most recently, Jane was appointed to the Foundation Board of Trustees at NJ Sharing Network, which works on strategic initiatives to support organ and tissue donation. “Before my son became an organ and tissue donor, I did not realize how rare and special it is to be a donor,” says Jane. “Less than one percent of deaths in New Jersey lead to donation. It is therefore so important to me to work with the Foundation Board to spread the life-saving message of donation and lay to rest the myths people have about donation.” Around the time Dan passed away, Zan’s Garden of Life was being developed in honor of a young organ donor named Alexandra. Her father, Dr. John Tozzi, is an orthopedic surgeon and chairman of the department of orthopedics and rehabilitation services at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Two years to the day of Dan’s death, the Buckiewicz family and other organ and tissue donor families gathered for the unveiling of the garden. After the ceremony, Jane’s daughter, Amy, connected with Dr. Tozzi and she was invited to share her brother’s story at future speaking engagements. Jane says her family was blessed to receive constant and loving support from their many relatives, close friends and neighbors, and from occasional time spent with Dan’s friends. In 2011, when NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Celebration of Life first launched, it seemed like the perfect kind of event to gather everyone together, to remember Dan and to celebrate him. They called themselves Team Buck, “Buck” being Dan’s nickname. Since he was captain of his baseball team at Spring/Summer 2018


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DAN BUCKIEWICZ gave the gift of life to three people and enhanced the lives of many others through tissue donation.

COVER STORY Freehold Township High School, Amy designed t-shirts emblazoned with his No. 6. “It is a wonderful event that contributes to our healing,” says Jane. “It’s very special when I stand at the 5K Celebration of Life and look around and I see our family and friends. My brothers now have grandchildren. Even though they’ve never met their cousin Danny, it gives them a reason to know about him and ask about him. We haven’t missed a year.” Jane visits Freehold Township High School once a marking period to make a presentation about organ and tissue donation to driver’s education classes. She tells the students how, through the gift of life, Dan was able to save the lives of three people, one in need of a liver, another in need of a kidney and a third in need of a kidney and pancreas. His corneas helped two others restore their vision. In addition, a Division I athlete who received Dan’s meniscus was able to resume playing her sport. One student had a memorable reaction to her presentation: “So let me get this straight. We can all live with only one kidney? Why doesn’t everybody just donate a kidney!” Jane hopes these teenagers who hear her son’s story will go home and talk to their families about organ and tissue donation. She stresses how important it is for parents to know their children’s wishes, just like she knew Dan’s. Over the years, Jane’s involvement with NJ Sharing Network has expanded in several

TEAM BUCK was formed in memory of organ and tissue donor Dan Buckiewicz. From left, Bruce Buckiewicz, Dan’s father; Jane Buckiewicz, Dan’s mother; Amy Buckiewicz, Dan’s sister; and Vinnie Buddle.

A Final Act of Kindness

Stories of the gift of life often cause a ripple effect. The experience of Jane Buckiewicz, for example, made a profound impact on her friend and colleague at Blue Buffalo, Joyce Novotny. As a result of Dan Buckiewicz becoming an organ and tissue donor, the Connecticut resident chose to include NJ Sharing Network among the select charitable organizations to which she would contribute each year. It would be no surprise to those who knew her. Joyce loved helping others. Last September, Joyce was involved in a tragic motor vehicle accident on the way home from an annual family trip to Hilton Head. She was admitted to McCleod Regional Medical Center in Florence, South Carolina and was able to save and enhance the lives of eight people through the gift of life. “When we were in the hospital after the accident is when we realized that Joyce was an organ donor,” says her brother Jim Novotny of Long Island. “We were so proud of her. If she could help a person, she would. That’s just the way she was.” At the upcoming 5K Celebration of Life in Long Branch this May, Jane and Team Buck will participate in honor of both Dan and Joyce. Friends and family will gather from around the tri-state area. Special t-shirts will be designed in her memory. “Blue Buffalo is like a family. They provided me with incredible support after Danny passed away,” says Jane. “It’s only fitting that we come together at the 5K Celebration of Life to honor Joyce who is so dearly missed.”

directions. As part of the Donor Family Council, she assists and guides the organization on ways to support the families of organ and tissue donors. She has served on committees for the annual Golf Classic and last year’s 30th Anniversary Gala, and is also a certified volunteer. After retiring from Blue Buffalo, where she was VP of Human Resources, Jane felt it was the right time to deepen her commitment and accepted the invitation to join the Foundation Board. “From the moment I met Alison Lee, who was our transplant coordinator at the hospital, I knew NJ Sharing Network was a special organization. Alison was incredibly supportive and did everything right,” says Jane. “Through my various roles with NJ Sharing Network, I have been given the chance to pay it forward.” Fellow Board Member Dr. Patrick Buddle, a living kidney donor, is more than just a colleague. Jane’s daughter and his son are in a committed relationship. As fate would have it, Amy and Vinnie Buddle met because of their shared connection to donation. The couple first struck up a conversation about their matching green Donate Life bracelets when, after the 5K Celebration of Life, Amy went to the Parker House in Sea Girt where he was working. The Buddle family’s 5K team has since merged with Team Buck. Dan’s No. 6 was retired at Freehold Township High School and his jersey is mounted in a frame which hangs outside the school gymnasium. Another framed jersey was presented to the family and it hangs in their home. It’s a daily reminder of how loved their son was by his teammates and friends. Remembering Dan, forever. That’s what it’s all about. “Our loss will change the constellation of our lives. That fact will not go away. But its edges will soften, and other events will come along to enrich our lives, so that this grief which seems as though it will forever be “front and center” slips into the background tapestry and our hearts are often and profoundly made glad once more.”

A butterfly on the Landscape of Life Wall recognizes contributions to our Foundation made in memory of organ and tissue donor Joyce Novotny.

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—Martha Whitmore, Healing After Loss

#6 on the field… #1 in our hearts…


The Landscape of Life Meditation Garden Dedicated in 2016, the Landscape of Life Meditation Garden is a special place for those whose lives have been touched by organ and tissue donation and transplantation. The garden serves as an extension of the Landscape of Life walls inside the Network, where we honor organ and tissue donors, transplant recipients, living donors and members of the community, and also acknowledge contributions made in their honor. Special personalized plaques are installed to recognize milestone contributions to our Foundation. Most recently, a plaque was added in memory of organ and tissue donor Daniel Buckiewicz of Freehold Township. For more information about different ways to honor your loved one, please contact Alyssa D’Addio at adaddio@njsharingnetwork.org or 908-516-5432.

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We Honor Them. We Remember Them. The many ways our Foundation can honor the legacy of your loved one More than 300 family members and caregivers gathered at Zan’s Garden of Life at Jersey Shore University Medical Center last July for a ceremony honoring 38 organ and tissue donors with engraved pavers.

The Donate Life Float at the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California brings national attention to the importance of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Each year, donors are honored with floragraphs placed on the floats and transplant recipients celebrate their second chance at life as float riders. Our Foundation and Employee Giving Campaign along with generous partners, Bridge to Life and Dignity Memorial Funeral Homes, sponsor float riders and the family members of floragraph honorees.

Throughout our service area, hospital partners honor donors in different ways. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset honored 43 organ and tissue donors with engraved leaves at the unveiling of The Tree of Life in October.

We invite donor families to participate in Quilts of Love. A lasting tribute to our donors, the quilts are a powerful tool that touches people’s hearts. Every square has its own unique story and you can create a square to honor your loved one. For details, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org/Quilts-of-Love It’s more than a 5K…It’s a Celebration of Life. Hundreds of teams and thousands of participants have come together in support of our life-saving mission. At the 5K Celebration of Life, we honor those who gave, pay tribute to those who received and offer hope to those who continue to wait, and remember the lives lost while waiting for the gift of life. 2018 DATES May 20, Long Branch June 3, New Providence

For details, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org/5K

Congratulations to 2017 Top 10 Teams Team Name

In Tribute Of

Team Captain

Team Total

Team Luke

Luke Bautista

Chris Bautista


Run For Your Life

Richard Engel

Swati Rao-Engel


Team Courtney

Courtney Dayback

Kristina Dayback


Just Do It

Joe D’Addio

Alyssa D’Addio


Team Andrew and Caroline

Andrew Jova

Jennifer Jova


Linda’s Lovees

Linda Finnegan

Kathleen Finnegan


Jane’s Cardinals

Jane Conrad

Sara Shae


Max’s Mitzvah Movers

Sam Prince

Max Prince


Caitlin Gives

Caitlin Mary Nelson

Anne Vetri


Team Buck

Daniel Buckiewicz

Amy Buckiewicz


Spring/Summer 2018


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Transplant recipient expresses his gratitude to donor family Robert Fisher of Ocean Gate, wearing the green shirt, owes his life to organ donation. Robert had the chance to express his gratitude to his donor’s family during an emotional meeting at our headquarters in January. Fisher received a heart and kidney from 24-year-old Nolman Vidal Rodriguez, who died tragically in 2016 and was able to save multiple lives by his family saying “yes” to organ donation. Nolman’s siblings shared photos and stories about their brother and listened to his heart beating strongly in Fisher’s chest. Fisher presented the family an angel teddy bear to send to Nolman’s mother in Honduras. When you squeeze the bear’s paw, it plays a recording of his heart beat. The reunion was facilitated by our Family Services team, which helps donor families and recipients communicate confidentially until both agree to share their identities with one another. Fisher and the Rodriguez family promised to keep in touch. Interested in writing to your donor family or your loved one’s recipient? Email familyservices@njsharingnetwork.org.

In Memoriam

A Time to Heal

We fondly remember these bright stars who passionately advocated for donation

All donor family members are invited to attend a new series of workshops on grief facilitated by members of our Family Services Team. The series launched last year with a workshop on coping with grief and honoring loved ones during the holidays. This year, we will hold three additional programs:

Jessa Scott fought a courageous battle with Pulmonary Hypertension from the time she was 16. New York Presbyterian Hospital, where Jessa received two life-saving lung transplants, shared her remarkable story in a commercial and on billboards. She is honored on our Landscape of Life Wall, served as captain of “The Cure,” her 5K team, and advocated passionately for donation. On a GoFundMe page she created in 2013 while waiting for a third lung transplant, she wrote, “Even if you can’t afford to contribute, please take the time to become an organ donor. Heaven knows we need the help here.” Jessa passed away in February 2017 at the age of 28. Patricia “Pat” Rush, a familiar face at NJ Sharing Network for many years, passed away in November 2017 at the age of 86. For decades, Pat shared her experience as both a donor wife and donor mother and grandmother of a liver transplant recipient. She had a special gift for connecting with other donor families and around the first anniversary of losing their loved ones she called families to check in and offer support. “To have someone reach out to you on that day just touched me and made me realize NJ Sharing Network was a really special place,” recalls Alberta D’Addio, the wife of an organ and tissue donor. “Not that long after, I became a volunteer.” Rita Solimene, a 1993 kidney transplant recipient from Newark Beth Israel, was loved by all who knew her. She enjoyed attending events and volunteering at our 5K Celebration of Life. A strong athlete, Rita also participated in the Transplant Games of America with Team Liberty, winning several medals. She swam, ran and competed in the ball throw. Rita passed away in November 2017 at the age of 76. Spring/Summer 2018


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MAY 6 When the Unthinkable Happens: Dealing with Trauma in Loss SEPTEMBER 23 Death in the Family: Who Are We Now? NOVEMBER 18 Hope for the Holidays: Coping, Honoring, and Finding Peace With Loss For more information, contact familyservices@njsharingnetwork.org or visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org/FamilyServices.


Sharing is Caring


Inspiring stories. Important news. Dates to remember. You’ll find all this plus photos and videos from our events on social media. We also love to see YOUR POSTS about donation. So remember to use #NJSharingNetwork and #NJSN5K…here are some recent favorites!

Spring/Summer 2018


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Everywhere a Sign Some might call these stories coincidences. Others see them as Signs of Hope. What do you think? Share your story with editor@njsharingnetwork.org. A Dime for Your Thoughts

“A Cozy Hug”

“Ever since my son Jared passed away, he has blessed me, my family, and very close friends with signs he is looking over us,” says donor mother Beth Colon. Beth says she has found dimes on her birthday, his birthday and his “angelversary.” Her sister has asked Jared for a sign and found a dime next to her car, and in the dryer. Another friend, Alex, who Jared looked up to as a father figure, finds dimes when he is deployed as part of the reserves. On Beth’s recent trip to Pasadena for the Rose Parade to honor her son on the Donate Life Float, she was hoping he would bring her a dime. Jared did not disappoint. She found a total of 10 dimes, from the one at Newark airport at the Pre-TSA podium to the one at LAX when she was sitting needlepointing and found one by her chair. “I keep all the dimes I find from Jared,” says Beth. “Jared travels with me and is always by my side.”

Shawls, created by our Wrapped in Love volunteers, are provided to donor family members as a tangible expression of comfort and compassion. On numerous occasions, we have heard the timing of a shawl’s arrival coincides with a special date. “Tomorrow happens to be my mother’s 90th birthday,” a donor family member shared recently. “I saved the shawls to give to her and my sister who lived with my brother and were most impacted by his death. I told mom that the shawls were like a gift from him, too. My mom has barely taken her shawl off. It’s like a cozy hug.”

House Calls “Sometimes you have to wonder what guides our path in life and the decisions we make,” says liver transplant recipient and longtime advocate for organ donation and NJ Sharing Network volunteer, Brock Barber. While Brock and his wife were house hunting, they chatted with their real estate agent about finding the right house. His agent said they would know when they found the right house because they would get a feeling, or experience a sign. One day, Brock and his wife walked into a house that met all their criteria. “I can see us living here,” he said. As they were going through the unfinished basement, Brock was amazed to find a green and black “Donate Life” air freshener hanging from a pipe! Against the odds, the timing worked out with the selling of their house and this special house still being on the market. After the closing, the agent handed them the keys along with the Donate Life air freshener and said, “This now belongs to you!”

An Act of Selflessness, and a Selfie “This is one of the million reasons I love this Network and am so happy to be a part of it all,” says donor family member and volunteer Amy Cilli. Amy was at the Apple store at Rockaway Mall when “this nice man” spotted her green bracelet and they struck up a conversation. He turned out to be Cameron Wohl, a transplant recipient and co-founder of The Wave Set, a non-profit he formed with his brother Jared who saved his life as a rare living liver donor. Spring/Summer 2018


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JOIN US…in our mission to save lives.


MAY th 10



NJ Sharing Network Headquarters New Providence, NJ Looking to learn more about NJ Sharing Network and tour our state-of-the-art facilities? Want to get involved? Plan to attend one of our monthly Advocacy Nights! First, we will provide an overview of our organization and give a tour while offering the opportunity for members of the donation community to meet one another. Then, please feel free to stay for our Volunteer Certification Training. (If you are already a Certified Volunteer, a series of educational sessions will be offered on these evenings to increase your knowledge about donation and transplantation.) To sign up, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org/Advocacy-Night.

#SaveNJLives is our Donate Life Month initiative to help start conversations about organ and tissue donation and transplantation throughout the state of New Jersey. During the month of April, participating pizzerias and coffee shops throughout the state will be distributing custom-designed pizza boxes and coffee sleeves displaying the number of people in the local community currently waiting for a life-saving transplant. The boxes and sleeves include a call to action to visit www.SaveNJLives.com, where visitors can learn how many people in their town are waiting for a transplant, share the information via social media and learn ways to help.


Watch for us at local events in April, where we’ll be partnering with businesses near you to help spread the word!

MAY 20

5K Walk & USATF Certified Race Great Lawn at the Ocean Promenade Ocean Avenue, Long Branch 7:30am Event Begins 8:30am Race | 10:00am Walk

NATIONAL BLUE & GREEN DAY IS APRIL 13 Remember to show your support by wearing the colors of donation.

5K Walk & USATF Certified Race NJ Sharing Network Headquarters 691 Central Avenue, New Providence 7:30am Event Begins 8:30am Race | 10:00am Walk

Visit www.njsharingnetwork.org/DLM to download our Donate Life Month Community Outreach Resource Kits. Spring/Summer 2018




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It’s more than a 5K... It’s a Celebration of Life.



AUGUST st 1– th 7


NJ • NY • CT



Through sports and social activities, Team Liberty, a program of NJ Sharing Network, offers unique ways to get involved.

National Minority Donor Awareness Week is a nationwide observance that honors the generosity of multicultural donors and their families, while also underscoring the critical need for people from diverse communities to register as organ and tissue donors. It is a time to promote healthful living and disease prevention to decrease the need for transplantation.

JUNE 25 TEAM LIBERTY 5TH ANNUAL GOLF OUTING New Jersey National Golf Club, Basking Ridge Play 18 holes (1 organ donor can save 8 lives) to support organ and tissue donation.


Visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org/NMDAW or contact Brooke Hartrum, Community Education Manager, at bhartrum@njsharingnetwork.org.

Salt Lake City, Utah


20TH ANNUAL GOLF CLASSIC Ridgewood Country Club | Paramus, NJ Yes, it’s held at a world-class golf course… but this event is not just for golfers! Play a fun round or come support our mission while enjoying brunch, cocktails, a tricky tray and silent auction.

Meet thousands of transplant recipients from around the country, share your transplant story, honor your donor, improve your health and fitness, and support thousands of other patients who are waiting for their second chance at life! Organ transplant recipients, tissue recipients and living donors are eligible to participate in various competitions, including track and field, swimming, bowling, basketball, tennis, volleyball, cycling and more!

Visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org/Golf Presented by

NOVEMBER th 9 – th 11

To join Team Liberty and attend the 2018 Donate Life Transplant Games, please complete their membership application at www.GoTeamLiberty.org.


National Donor Sabbath is observed annually two weekends before Thanksgiving. NJ Sharing Network offers resources to help you promote organ and tissue donation within your faith-based community during this time and year-round. We will help you start the conversation, arrange for a presentation, host a donor registration drive and share the life-saving message. Visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org/ DonorSabbath or contact E. Denise Peoples, Community Educator, at dpeoples@njsharingnetwork.org. Spring/Summer 2018


WORKSHOP ON LETTER WRITING NJ Sharing Network has been invited to conduct a workshop at the 2018 Transplant Games which will be open to attendees throughout the country. Members of our Family Services staff will guide transplant recipients through the process of corresponding with their donor’s family. Donor families may also attend to honor their loved ones. Tips for writing the first letter or note are available on our website, www.NJSharingNetwork.org.

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PAID Union, NJ

691 Central Avenue New Providence, NJ 07974 800-742-7365 • 908-516-5400 www.NJSharingNetwork.org

Permit No. 931

WHO WE ARE NJ Sharing Network is a non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for the nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents currently awaiting transplantation, and is part of the national recovery system, which is in place for the 115,000 people on waiting lists. NJ Sharing Network is a designated OPO by UNOS; accredited by AOPO, ASHI, AATB and CAP; and registered with the FDA and NJ State DOH. NJ Sharing Network is a member of Community Health Charities. If you no longer wish to receive information from NJ Sharing Network, please call 908-516-5400.

The Transplant Games of America are Coming to New Jersey! July 17–22, 2020 Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible, especially our partners in the bidding process.

THE BID TEAM From left: Justin Edelman, RWJBarnabas Health; John Creel, Novartis; Judy Ross, Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau; Joe Roth and Elisse Glennon, NJ Sharing Network; Bill Ryan, Transplant Life Foundation; Debbie Patire, American Dream; Mark Sparta, Hackensack Meridian Health; and Jim Kirkos, Meadowlands Regional Chamber

Like us on facebook @NJSharingNetwork

Follow us on twitter @NJSharing

For video highlights and photos from the press conference, and to join Team Liberty, go to www.NJSharingNetwork.org/ TGAMeadowlands2020

Follow us on instagram @NJSharingNetwork

Follow us on snapchat @NJSharing

Profile for NJ Sharing Network

Circle of Life Magazine: Spring/Summer 2018  

Life After Loss: Mother of organ and tissue donor Dan Buckiewicz keeps son's memory alive A publication of NJ Sharing Network

Circle of Life Magazine: Spring/Summer 2018  

Life After Loss: Mother of organ and tissue donor Dan Buckiewicz keeps son's memory alive A publication of NJ Sharing Network