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Ethics of Organ Procurement and Donation Discussed at College Forum

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NJ Sharing Network General Counsel & Government Affairs Catherine DeAppolonio (left), Sr. Manager of Community Services E. Denise Peoples (2nd from right), and Bloomfield College of Montclair State University Professor Peter C. DeSarno, CPA, MBA, MS (right).

The Cyrus H. Holley Applied Ethics Forum, hosted by Bloomfield College of Montclair State University Professor Peter C. DeSarno, CPA, MBA, MS, presented The Ethics of Organ Procurement and Donation in the College’s Westminster Hall on April 4, 2024. Bloomfield College students, faculty, staff and other interested parties were in attendance.

DeSarno shared his personal journey of benefiting from cornea tissue donation through the Eye Bank of Texas, Eversight (previously known as the Lions Eye Bank of NJ) and the NJ Sharing Network, the organization that serves as New Jersey’s federally-designated, 501(c)3 non-profit organ procurement organization (OPO).

“When I was 17 years old, I began to experience a rapid decline in my vision. I was diagnosed with a condition called Keratoconus, which if left untreated, would have continued to degrade my vision. After several years of using specially crafted contact lenses, they became no longer effective, and at the age of 24, I received two corneal transplants that restored my vision and forever changed my life,” said DeSarno.

“Today, I look out of the eyes of two other individuals. They were two heroic human beings who came from two loving, caring and generous families who in their darkest hour displayed an incredible amount of love and compassion in providing me with the gift of sight. I don’t think humanity gets any more beautiful than that,” he said.

Also presenting were two invited speakers from the NJ Sharing Network: General Counsel & Government Affairs Catherine DeAppolonio, and Sr. Manager of Community Services E. Denise Peoples, who led a discussion on the ethics and morality of organ transplantation and the ethics of organ procurement and allocation, and answered questions from attendees.

DeAppolonio said, “New Jersey Sharing Network, as a federally designated organ procurement organization, is heavily regulated. In fulfilling our mission to save and enhance lives through organ and tissue donation we hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards in order to preserve the public trust, to honor those who gave the gift of life, and to remember those still waiting for the lifesaving gift.”

“One organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 people,” said Peoples. “In 2023, the NJ Sharing Network procured organs from 261 donors, culminating in 715 organ transplants, and received 44,266 tissue and eye gifts. We work with more than 50 hospital partnerships and six organ transplant centers in New Jersey to ensure that the gift of donation is available to the communities we serve.”

Moved by the speakers’ comments, and a video highlighting additional examples of people who have benefited from organ and tissue donation, many attendees chose to immediately sign up as organ and tissue donors through a provided QR code.

Established in 1987, the NJ Sharing Network stewards the gift of life through both recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue for those in need of a life-saving transplant. It also provides a network of care and support for the courageous donor families who help save lives through the gift of donation.

The Holley Forum, Bloomfield College’s first endowed professorship, was established with a generous endowment from former trustee Cyrus Holley H’98 to foster teaching and scholarly creativity in the field of applied ethics.