MIDDLESEX, N.J. (PIX11) – Eight years ago, Helen Hunter was waiting for a hero. She was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease.
“I have two brothers,” said Hunter, “and we figured that one of us would probably get it. I was the, quote-unquote, ‘lucky’ one to get it.”
It’s a disease she lost her grandmother to. Hunter needed a transplant to live.
“I had a one-kidney transplant,” said Hunter, “and that kidney has been very helpful and beneficial. So far, it’s working very well.”
It was thanks to the family of a man who died after falling off of a ladder that donated his organs, saving Hunter’s life.
“I have that gift of life,” said Hunter.
“The need is great. The need is huge,” said Kelly Bonventre, manager of community services at NJ Sharing Network.
New Jersey is one of the nation’s leaders, with nearly three million registered organ donors. But there still aren’t enough organs to meet the need.
“Right now there are 4,000 New Jersey residents waiting for a lifesaving transplant,” said Bonventre. “There are 100,000 people waiting right here in the United States, and unfortunately we lose 17 people a day while waiting.”
The NJ Sharing Network is a nonprofit that facilitates organ donation and transplants.
“We work really, really hard to save people like Helen and to be able to facilitate the gift of life through donation and transplantation,” said Bonventre.
Signing up is easier than ever. If you’re on the fence, officials encourage you to learn more about organ donation.
It’s a subject that’s not easy to think about, but it’s one that kept Hunter here for many more happy years to come.
“Really what’s going to help us save more lives is people saying yes to donation,” said Bonventre.