Courtesy Jessica Melore '03

Courtesy Jessica Melore '03

Jessica Melore ’03 was a bright, athletic high school student with a promising future when, at age 16, she suffered a massive heart attack. After waiting nine months for a heart transplant, she received a crucial, lifesaving gift from a girl not much older than her — an 18-year-old organ donor named Shannon Eckert, who had died in a car accident.

Three months later, Melore arrived on campus as a Princeton freshman. She majored in psychology and since graduation has spent most of her career working to promote organ and tissue donation, first through a project called the Workplace Partnership for Life and more recently with the New Jersey Organ & Tissue Sharing Network.

Much of her work involves education and outreach to specific groups, including New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission employees, who ask hundreds of people each day if they’d like to include the organ-donor designation on their driver’s license. Melore also has worked with student groups at local colleges to promote organ and tissue donation. “We’re trying to educate the public as much as possible,” she told PAW, “getting people to understand the power of that decision [to be a donor].”

Last month, to mark her 30th birthday, Melore recorded a short video (below) sharing her story in support of the “20 million in 2012” campaign, a national effort to register 20 million more potential donors this year. Her comments focused on how grateful she is to her donor and to her donor’s family, with whom she has corresponded for more than a decade. 

“People don’t think about that side of it,” she said. “Every time their loved one’s story is shared … it’s a way for that person to live on.”