Source: Dayton Daily News
KETTERING — Bilal Momin watched as one family member after another succumbed to a genetic and degenerative kidney disease. In 2006, the associate minister of Freedom-Hill Baptist Church in Dayton thought he was next.
But, as Momin tells it, one of his flock in the congregation approached him one day and said, “God told me to give you a kidney.”
Nearly four years later, Momin said he can’t thank Michele Gee enough for her gift. He hopes more in the black community follow her lead and donate organs.
Locally and nationallyw, blacks wait two to three times longer to receive organs than whites because of the shortage of matches from donors.
Nationally, 31 percent of 107,000 awaiting donations are black, while 45 percent (39 of 86) on a waiting list at Miami Valley Hospital are black, said Cathi Arends, spokeswoman for Life Connection of Ohio, a local nonprofit promoting organ donation.
The growing waiting list has advocates like Momin beating the donation drum in the black community, though being a man of God puts him in a delicate situation on this issue.
Donor advocates say many blacks cite religious concerns when asked to consider donation.
Other concerns include fear of doctors, quality of health care they might receive from doctors and costs, Arends and Momin said.
The latter concerns are much easier to combat for Arends, who said there is no evidence to support the health care concerns and there is no cost for donors.
But religious belief is where she and, even Momin, tread lightly.
“Never,” said Momin when asked if he’s preached about it. “When I am in the pulpit giving a sermon, I am teaching the word of God. (Organ donation) is an individual decision and there’s no spiritual barrier to doing it.”
Many black religious leaders take the same stance, rarely availing the pulpit to speak about organ donation, if at all.
The Rev. Brodie Mathis of Zion Baptist Church and Bishop Mark McGuire of St. Paul Global Outreach Ministries, said they’ve never given a sermon on the issue.
“I can’t say necessarily I would ever advocate for it,” McGuire said. “Let me rephrase that: I haven’t advocated for it yet. I would never discourage anyone from donating an organ.”
Mathis and McGuire both said they are not registered organ donors because the issue has “never come up” for them.
McGuire said he’s heard discussions opposing organ donations in the black community citing Bible scripture in the Old Testament that deals with mutilation.
“But your body is the vehicle left behind once you die,” Mathis said. “Scripture teaches us your spirit has already passed into heaven and the physical body is the dust of the earth. So it doesn’t matter what’s in your body, your spirit is with God.”
Both men said for the black community, funerals or “homegoings” are different than in the white community and they’ve heard some feel donating their organs means a closed casket at their funeral.
“People want that open casket and when that casket closes, that’s a rough time in the African-American community,” McGuire said.
“We probably need to become more conscientious about organ donation in the African-American community.
“It’s obvious we have to help each other. It’s written that whether by death or by life I will magnify the Lord. If (organ donation) is the greatest magnification of God — to help someone else — I think that might be our quest for life.”