From NJ Sharing Network:
Kimberly Slaton of Maplewood, NJ never thought much about organ and tissue donation – until it became personal. Slaton grew up as close cousins with Dr. Randall (Randy) Giles. When Dr. Giles passed away unexpectedly in 2012, he became an organ and tissue donor, saving five lives and enhancing the lives of 50 others. His generosity did not surprise Slaton one bit.
“Randy would give you the shirt off his back. He was always there for you or helped you find your way,” said Slaton. “I remember that he was a big advocate for organ and tissue donation and giving the gift of life to others when our time on Earth is done. Randy would always say to us, ‘what are you going to do with your organs when you die?’”
Since Dr. Giles’ passing, Slaton has dedicated herself to advocating for organ and tissue donation. Today, Slaton is a Donation Resource Coordinator at NJ Sharing Network, the non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue in the state. She plays a critical role at NJ Sharing Network by ensuring the organ and tissue donation process is always efficient and effective. Her personal experience helps her evaluate potential organ donors and speak to families about tissue donation.
Through her volunteer participation with the Donate Life Group of Greater Newark, Kim organizes and participates in programs to bring awareness about donation to local minority communities, including information tables at churches, colleges and street fairs throughout the year. She is also co-captain of Team Biffs Gifts, who will participate in NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Celebration of Life in honor of Randy on Sunday, September 12, in New Providence.
Slaton’s advocacy efforts are ramped up in August during National Minority Donor Awareness Month, a time to honor 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. Slaton stresses the importance of National Minority Donor Awareness Month and the NJ Sharing Network’s #DonationNeedsDiversity campaign. According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents are waiting for a life-saving transplant, and 67% are people of color.
“Each year in New Jersey, thousands of lives are saved and enhanced through organ and tissue donation and transplantation,” said Slaton. “However, there is an urgent need to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation to help save more lives in our diverse communities of New Jersey. Due to high rates of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, minorities are a greater risk for organ failure and, therefore, more likely to need a transplant. When minorities register is organ donors, it is more likely that someone in their community will get a second chance at life.”
Although organs are not matched according to race and ethnicity, and people of different races frequently match one another, all individuals waiting for an organ transplant will have a better chance of receiving one if there are large numbers of donors from multicultural communities, according to NJ Sharing Network. For more information about ways to get involved and support the #DonationNeedsDiversity campaign, please visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org/donation-needs-diversity.
To register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.