New Jersey officials are urging more people to register as organ donors.

About 5,000 New Jersey residents are among the 117,000 nationwide on the waiting list to get organ and tissue donations.

Joe Roth, the CEO of the New Jersey Sharing Network that supports organ donor families and research, said Monday some people are just reluctant to sign up as organ donors.

"The big one we always hear is religious prohibitions, and there are really no major religious prohibitions," he said. "We hear these stories that they're not going to save my life in a hospital if they know I'm an organ donor, which is not true."

While the number of minorities registering as organ donors is increasing in some parts of the state, state Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd said ethnic and racial groups still have a higher percentage of people in need of transplants.

"In New Jersey, minorities represent 60 percent of those on a waiting list while accounting for 36 percent of living and 46 percent of deceased donors," she said. "A diverse pool of donors increases the chances that patients from all racial and ethnic groups can successfully be treated with donation."

Just about a third of New Jersey's drivers have signed up as organ donors, and officials are hoping the awareness campaign will encourage more people to register.