Organ Donation: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

EBONY | Tomika Anderson
Sometimes love has the power to be lifesaving in ways one could never expect. Just ask Spring, Texas-based human resources manager Dwight Deserne. Five years after he accepted his wife Renee’s hand in marriage following their whirlwind romance, he accepted one of her kidneys. Diagnosed at birth with undersized kidneys and plagued with a debilitating illness since, Dwight, now 43, initially refused his bride’s love offering though it was a perfect genetic match. But as he grew sicker and realized his waiting list kidney might not come in time, he caved.

“I begged her not to do it,” he says. “Renee is five years younger than me and relatively healthy; I didn’t want to take any chances that she could be putting her own health at risk. Fortunately, she paid no attention to me,” Dwight says, laughing. “She went right on over to Methodist hospital in Houston—probably one of the best facilities in the world for kidney transplants—did the workup and got a date. We had our surgeries right before Christmas. As a result, my breathing is better, my food tastes better and I haven’t had this much energy since I was 14 years old. My body is just getting what it needs. The best gift ever.”

You could say Washington, D.C.-based activist, community organizer and two-time nonprofit founder Odunola Ojewumi was gifted twice. To end her life-threatening battle with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, she received both a heart and a kidney at age 9. All Ojewumi knows about her donor is that she was a 22-year-old woman killed in a car accident. “When I was 16, I sent her parents a letter to say thank you. They never wrote me back,” says Ojewumi, now 26. “I understand. I can only imagine how it must feel to know your daughter’s heart beats in someone else’s chest; I have her kidney, too.” Continue reading
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