Leaders pushing for more people to become organ donors — especially among African Americans
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Black people rank highest on the transplant list for those in need of organ donations but rank the lowest as registered organ donors — a statistic Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler wants to change.
“I’m not like other coroners,” Fowler said. “I want to save lives. My job is to pronounce death, but my mission and ministry, I feel, is to save lives. I did suicide prevention, ‘Stop The Violence,’ ‘Swim For Life.’ Anything I can do to save lives, and this is one of the key pieces here is to help save lives by being a donor.”
Fowler said he has seen many Black people who died who were not organ donors. And others who did not find a match for a donation.
Kidney transplants are more successful within the Black community if the donor and recipient are of the same race, according to experts.
Former NFL Runningback Bobby Howard is a kidney transplant recipient who now works with Lifelink of Georgia.
“Right now, we’re doing a campaign — a pilot project with an elementary school. We provided them with coloring books about lifestyle and where your organs come from. So starting at an early age,” Howard said. “We have to have a better understanding of our bodies. I think sometimes, we wait too late to truly understand how our body works, what should we put in our body and all of those things.”
16-year-old Jabrai Brantley is a heart transplant recipient.
“All I can say is, y’all do y’all best to save people because we’re all human beings,” Brantley said. “And we need to start to come together to save each other because it’s people out there waiting and waiting and people dying. And so we need to come together to help each other out so we can all live in peace.”
Larry Jackson learned he was in stage five kidney failure in January 2022.
“The main thing is I wanna live. And to see my grandchildren grow up,” Jackson said. “So I’ll do whatever it takes. But right now, like I said, I’m in the transplant phase now. I got my family members. They’re being tested. So that is, I would say the quickest way because I’m O+ blood type and it’s hard for us to get a match. I can donate to anybody, but I got to get that certain match blood type for you to donate to me.”
If the transplant fails, Jackson will have to go on the transplant list like many others. But he said he’s staying hopeful.
If people would like more information on how to become organ donors or how to get more educated on the topic, they can reach out to Fowler. If people would like to get in contact with Larry Jackson, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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