Donating organs can help save lives

Photo courtesy NJ Sharing Network Jill Doherty and her dad, the late Eugene Doherty
Photo courtesy NJ Sharing Network
Jill Doherty and her dad, the late Eugene Doherty


For the fourth year in a row, Jill Doherty teamed with family and friends to honor her dad, the late Eugene Doherty, of Kearny, by participating in the NJ Sharing Network’s fifth annual 5K Celebration of Life in New Providence.

Gene Doherty, who, like his dad, Eugene Sr., was a former president of the Irish American Club in Kearny, suffered from sleep apnea and, in 2012, was rushed to the hospital with cerebral anoxia where doctors diagnosed brain death.

He had already registered as an organ and tissue donor on his driver’s license and his family went along with the request.

“My father was always about helping people,” said Jill, who spent her formative years in Harrison before her family moved to Sayreville. She has lived in North Arlington since March.

When faced with her dad’s donor decision, Gene’s only child, Jill said that she and her dad “were always on the same page about everything. That made everything alright.”

So her dad’s heart and lungs were donated to research and education and his kidneys, heart valves and tissue were also used to save lives.

Since her dad’s death, Jill – who was an administrative assistant for Medieval Times in Lyndhurst for six years – has become an advocate for organ and tissue donation through her work at the Donor Resource Center at NJ Sharing Network. For each of the last four years, her former employer has sent representatives to attend the 5K events, she said.

In the four years that she and her team members have participated in the event, “we’ve raised almost $5,000,” Jill said.

Arranging for organ and tissue donations can take on great personal significance, Jill said. “For families losing someone, it gives the sense that their loved one is a hero. And it helps with the healing process. As part of my job, I talk to donor families myself and every day, through that process, I honor [my dad].

“Applying for the position [at NJ Sharing Network] was a sign,” Jill said. “When I walked through the halls, I saw his name etched on the wall.” Donors’ names are inscribed through the group’s headquarters to honor their legacies.

According to the Network, one tissue donor can restore health to as many as 50 people. Donated skin grafts provide hope for mastectomy reconstruction and healing for burn patients; corneas can restore sight; bone grafts can prevent amputations for people with orthopedic cancers; and heart valves can save the lives of those with heart disease, the Network says.

Statistics supplied by the Network show that, as of March 2015, 2.5 million New Jersey residents had registered as organ and tissue donors but 5,000 remain on a waiting list for suitable organs and/or tissue.

For more information about the organization’s work, people are invited to go online and visit

– Ron Leir 

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