Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Give Your Heart

When you give your heart to all those you love on Valentine's Day remember that it's also organ donation awareness day.
I was proud to take part in a special event at The Rock, the new Prudential Center in Newark at half-time of Tuesday's Seton Hall-Marquette basketball game.
As part of the Get Game Give Life promotion, the NJ Sharing Network distributed wristbands and had a great presentation from center court. Dr. David Laskow of Robert Wood Johnons University Hospital, spoke about his experience as a transplant surgeon - and a heart-transplant recipient. After a major heart attack, Dr. Laskow needed - and was lucky to receive a transplant - he temporarily had an artificial heart. Since the surgery saved his life two years ago - he has performed 150 transplant surgeries! I joined several organ recipients, or donor family members, on the court at half-time flanking NJ Share officials and Senate President Richard J. Codey - a huge supporter of the cause of organ donation - at the presentation. Among the recipients were Ronald Griffin and young Antwan Hunter who received life-saving organs from Jason Ray - known as the Ray of Hope. Jason was the larger-than-life mascot for North Carolina's Tar Heels basketball team who was tragically killed by a automobile near the Meadowlands arena last March before a tournament game. Jason had bravely agreed to be an organ donor - his NC license bore the red heart designation used by the state. Jason's selfless act saved several lives directly and countless others indirectly. The story of his gracious family and his personal courage has been told and retold notably in ESPN the magazine and on ESPN TV. On Jan. 31, Oprah Winfrey devoted her show to the issue of organ donation - based on Jason's story. Oprah gave the issue the buzz that only she can. Organ donor registries across the country reported huge jumps in hits on their websites and tremendous increases in registered donors. Talk about Getting Game and Giving Life!
Happy Valentine's Day - I love you all.