(201) Health 2021 Edition - Page 10


What adifference ayear makes . There ’ salot more good news about public health in New Jersey than there was last June , and we ’ re happy toshare it . The infection and death rates from COVID have been going down for months� �0� of New Jersey residents have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine �last year atthis time , there was no vaccine , of course �and in many situations , those who ’ ve been vaccinated don ’ t need to wear masks . Now that we have some time to process the effects ofaglobal pandemic , we share some perspectives from people caught in the middle ofit . Dr . James Pruden , aphysician at St . Joseph ’ s �niversity Medical Center , reflects onthe patience he cultivated after contracting COVID , and spending amonth in the intensive care unit of his own hospital . Dr . Adam Jarrett , chief medical officer at �oly Name Medical Center talks about how he and his colleagues coped with being at more or less ground zero for infections inBergen County .

It feels good to anticipate looking at the pandemic inthe rearview mirror . But we also want tohighlight aperen- nial health issue that claims 8,000 American lives ayear : The need for organ donation . The bad news isthat nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents await transplantations , but the good news isthat better ways ofgetting the word out about the need and matching donors with recipients is making it easier tosave lives . It wasn ’ thard to find inspirational individuals who show what the human spirit can achieve . I hope you enjoy reading their stories as much aswedid writing about them .
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The main topic of this issue has become dear to me over the last year . OnAugust 18 , �0�0 , my wife , Jody , became aliving liver donor to our friend , Iris Pereira Diaz . The Diazes are good family friends of ours in Westwood . Our kids are the same ages and play together often , and Iconsider Iris ’ husband , Nelson , among my best friends . I ’ ve never known two people quite like them� asitturns out , most ofthe time Iknew them , Ididn ’ t know that Iris needed anew liver .

Iris and Nelson never let on despite the personal trauma going on in their lives , asfamily members tried to see if they were suitable matches . Ionly discovered something was wrong on achance run-in atastore immediately following one of Iris ’ chemotherapy sessions . One evening after weasked , they told their story . Jody was so moved after their revelation that she immediately did research and went through the process of seeing ifshe was amatch for Iris . Miraculously , she was .
The emotions for all of us were understandably high leading into and during the day of the surgery . After some nerve-wracking hours , the two teams of surgeons and doctors told usspouses that the operations were so far asuccess . The next few days were difficult for Nelson and me , but we leaned towards optimism . Iris was still fighting for her life asher body tried to heal from the trauma of the surgeries and the new liver . After nearly four days of an up-and-down recovery , Iris passed away due tocomplications .
As Iwrite this , nine months have passed , and all who know the Diazes are still healing . Families in town rallied around us and gave support in all forms . Soon , apark bench will be dedicated toIris and Jody as atribute to their bond and inspiration to others . As for Jody , she has physically healed �she is so strong �but much like the Diazes , the emotional recovery will continue .
Iamincluding our story here not to discourage people from trying to help , but the opposite . While our story didn ’ t have the classic happy ending , we know good can still come from it . In her own way ofdoing something positive , Iris ’ s 11-year-old daughter Nyla opened an online craft shop where aportion ofher sales are donated to the American Liver Foundation . Please support her at bit . ly���pwo�V .
Our niece wrote Jody how she inspires her and will never forget she modeled selflessness . Ialso think of words Iris wrote before the surgery that she wanted toshare with Jody :“ Our bond is indescribable and irreplaceable . I ’ m grateful to share this journey with you in away that can ’ t be shared with anyone else . No matter what the future holds for me , please know you have given me the most precious lesson of my life �gratitude .”
�emembering tobegrateful for every moment oflife , especially during these difficult times , is agreat lesson for all of us .
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6 2021 EDITION ( 201 ) HEALTH