The Need for Organ Donors Is Urgent and Growing

Huffington Post | Black Voices | Ellery Payton

Across the United States, 22 people die each day waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. This issue is a growing problem, with more than 123,000 Americans currently on the transplant waiting list. In fact, this list grows by one person every 10 minutes according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

As a two-time kidney transplant recipient, I understand that waiting for a lifesaving organ takes a physical, mental and emotional toll. In 2003, I was devastated to learn my kidneys were failing to due to complications from high blood pressure. I started dialysis treatments at a clinic three times a week for four hours at a time, and soon after was extremely fortunate to receive my first kidney transplant. After the procedure, I was able to resume my busy life as a single father of a two-year-old. Unfortunately, in 2011 my transplant failed and I was forced to go back on dialysis. While on dialysis the second time around, I felt I wasn't able to act like a "normal" father; I couldn't work full-time or play sports with my son, Caleb. Dialysis treatments were exhausting, but I knew I had to keep fighting for myself and Caleb.

In May 2011, I received a call that changed our lives forever--there was a donor match. After seeing a Facebook post about my kidney health problems, Kellen, a member of my church and an Iraq war veteran, was tested and found out he was a match. In July, I received my second transplant, and soon after I joined the American Kidney Fund's Advocacy Network to pay it forward and help educate others in my community who are at risk. Through the American Kidney Fund, I have had the opportunity to talk to legislators on Capitol Hill, share my story and experience with other patients, and educate at-risk individuals on kidney disease. This has been a life-changing experience for me, particularly when it comes to explaining the donation process. Continue reading

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