NFL Star speaks to Albany church - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

NFL Star speaks to Albany church

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August 30, 2002

Albany--It's a long and uncertain road for Georgian's on the organ donor list. Bobby Howard is a former NFL player and recipient of a life saving kidney transplant. Howard works with LifeLink Georgia's Minority Donor Education Program. He's traveling the state, educating people about the realities of organ donation.

Members of the Greater Second Mount Olive Baptist Church in Albany give thanks for life, a prayer that former NFL star Bobby Howard says everyday. Howard says, "Somebody gave me something very important that was life." Howard received a life saving kidney transplant nearly 8 years ago, and today, prayed and sang with church members, trying to spread a message he says is not being heard.

Howard says, "I can remember when I first went to get the drivers license ask if I want to be a donor I said yes didn't see harm but when I was in need and saw lack of donors very alarming." African American's make up the majority of people in Georgia waiting for a transplant.

Several members of this church are recipients of organ donation, and even they say they're not surprised some do not participate. Transplant Recipient Peggy Lyons says, "Some of the religious elders believe you take everything with them when they pass on but God has given us a command to love, and part of command tells us to give life." And organ recipients say its a gift that is the greatest act of love.

In Georgia, 66 percent of people waiting for a kidney transplant are African American. Black men who suffer from hypertension, which can lead to kidney failure, are 20 times more likely to need a transplant.

Posted at 5:38 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com