Dispelling the Myths of Organ Donation in the African American Community

Have you ever thought about what you want for yourself after you have passed on?  Many of us are uncomfortable with the topic and tend to push it to the back of our mental closet, promising ourselves we will revisit it later in life.

But what if later comes sooner than planned?  Do your family members know what your wishes are?

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, around 30% of people on the organ recipient waiting list are African American.  Yet many of us are not registered as donors.

Of course, we know that organ donation occurs across ethnicities.  But it is worth considering that donor compatibility is determined by factors such as blood type and other genetic similarities.  Today there is a genuine need for African American donors that just isn’t being met.

So why is this?  One big fear reported in studies is the notion that being a donor makes you less likely to receive the best care in hospitals.  The idea is that your organs are needed, so there might be less of a fight to save your life.

I don’t for one moment wish to minimalize anyone’s fears.  We are all fearful of something, and it is hard to trust in goodness and equality in a world filled with challenge.  But I would like to offer my belief that we can trust in our doctors.

Sadly, a study published in the Journal of the National Medical Association states that 46% of African Americans state a lack of trust in doctors as a factor in not registering as organ donors.  And 66% of African American participants in this study stated that organ donation had not even been discussed amongst their family.

I would like to encourage a more open discussion around this topic.  It doesn’t have to be taboo, and we are each free to choose for ourselves whether or not to donate after our passing.

If you have heard my story before, then you will know that after my son’s sudden passing in 2011, he went on to save the lives of others as an organ donor.  Nothing can bring Trevin back, but I can find some comfort in focusing on the fact that he has gone on to save the lives of others.  And there are plenty of people, just like you and I, in need of this kind of help.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  If you have never registered as an organ donor, is it down to a lack of faith in the medical profession, or another reason entirely?  Please do leave me a comment below.

You can read the whole story about my son’s life, death, and how he went on to save more lives in my book, And The Beat Goes On.

Learn more about organ donation by clicking here.

ONE DAY AT A TIME!

I can’t believe it’s been five years since my son has passed away. Every year since then on October 31 – the day of his passing, I’ve tried to make sense of it all, but to no avail. This year, my therapist gave me an assignment… instead of focusing on the pain and sadness of the tragedy, take a moment and think of a good memory of your son and allow that memory to get you through the sadness of that day.

After Trevin’s passing, my husband and I made the decision to donate our son’s organs. Later on, we found out that Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency was able to secure four of his organs for transplant: heart, kidney, pancreas, and his liver…

This past April, as bittersweet as it was, we had the pleasure of meeting the man who now lives with our son’s heart, Papa Don. Since meeting, we have developed an amazing bonding relationship, not just with him, but his family as well. No one will ever be able to take Trevin’s place in my heart, but instead of focusing on his passing, I choose to focus on the lives he saved in his passing.

Renee Jones and Donald Anacker

Prayerfully, I will have the pleasure of meeting the recipients one day soon.

I can’t wait to visit my therapist later this week and share how this assignment has helped me to cope. One day at a time, one day at a time.

Lemonade

No, not Beyonce’s recipe for lemonade, I’m going to give you my recipe…

April 15th was Donate Life Blue & Green Day. During this day, the public is encouraged to wear blue and green, hold events and fundraisers, and partner with local restaurants, malls, media, and community organizations in an effort to promote the success of organ, eye and tissue transplantation and the extreme need for registered donors.

Well let me just tell you, this event was not only to bring awareness to this great cause, it was the answer to my many prayers. On October 18, 2011, my 19 year old son was shot in a drive-by shooting. He survived on life support for two weeks before he passed away on October 31st from his injury.  Everyday of those agonizing two weeks, I recall placing my ear on his chest to listen to his heart beat – It was the only thing that gave me hope. After being declared brain dead and after being stripped of all hope, I made the painful decision to donate his organs. The time came when I found out that one of the organs transplanted from my son was his heart. After months and months of depression, confusion, anger, bitterness and every other painful emotion you can imagine it hit me – And the Beat Goes On.

Now here we are 4 1/2 years and I was able to hear my son’s heart beat again. The human side of me wanted to collapse on the ground, but as I positioned the stethoscope upon Papa Don’s chest, the recipient of my son’s heart, I felt a sense of peace. I felt Trevin’s spirit assuring me that everything was okay. I don’t know why God chose this avenue for me, but through organ donation this devastating tragedy has become a miracle for many including myself. Through organ donation it has created a platform for me to share my story to not only help bring awareness to this great cause, but also to create a much needed dialogue within my community. Most importantly, it has played a major role in my healing process. I feel like I can breathe again.

For more information about organ donation and to register, CLICK HERE

Before you leave, be sure to check out the video below to witness this emotional union. Oh yeah, feel free to share, share, share.

Blessings,

I’M GOING TO CALI!

WOOHOOOO!!! Hold on to your seat Fierce Butterfly… I’m headed to the Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA in honor of my son. Yeah baby yeah (in my Austin Powers voice)!

Can you tell how excited I am to have gotten that call? This is huge! Every year, Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency chooses a Donor Family to be represented in the Parade.  I can’t remember every word of that phone call, but, I hung on to this, “Mrs. Jones, IT’S YOUR TIME!” Yayyyy!!!!! My family and I will be there, no doubt, with tears in our eyes, but also feeling proud that we made a decision to turn our tragedy into purpose. I can’t wait to see his face on the Donate Life Float!

Stay tuned, because I will be sharing my count-down to California as the time approaches.

Oh yeah, did you hear the buzz? My new release, “And the Beat Goes On” will be out on October 31, 2015. Why then? That will be the four year anniversary of Trevin’s passing and what better date to share his amazing story. No worries, you will have a chance to pre-order your copy in just a few weeks.Blacky

Well, until later – Live, Laugh, and Love on purpose!

Blessings,

Renee

 

Register to be a donor today!

How to register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor

There are a number of ways to register to be a donor:

You can register on-line by going to www.DonateLifeFlorida.org. This only takes a few minutes.

You can also register to be a donor through the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you live in a county where driver’s licenses and state ID’s are issued by the Tax Collector, it is also possible to register when you visit a local office.

If you would like to fill out a paper registration, please call 1-800-232-2892 and one will be mailed to you.

When you register, do not forget to share the good news with family and friends.

And The Beat Goes On!

Hey Butterflies!

Today is still an important day in my life.  Twenty-two years ago, God blessed me with a son.  There he was, over 7lbs and 19″,  eyes so big they could scan a room in seconds.

image

imageBlackyTrevin was definitely a, “Mama’s boy.” Family use to say, “Boy, get off of mama and leave her alone!” He was either sitting under me, or lying on my shoulder.  I didn’t mind, he was my baby.  I had to tell him at least three times a day that I loved him, or he aggravated the heck out of me.

You see, he was murdered in 2011 in a drive-by shooting. Since then, times have been rough and a bit unbearable to stand on my own. Everyday, I force myself to let go and let God heal me from this pain.  The pain of over-whelming sadness. The pain of finding myself so deep in depression that it’s hard to find the light of life that once shined so brightly within me, it lit the way for others.  I find  myself sitting in a room and questioning if the walls are closing in on me, or is it just my imagination running away with me. The guilt of smiling and enjoying life. One minute I’m, “Ms. Happy Go Lucky,” and the next I’m allowing tears to flow down my face because it feels better than the pain of guilt. The pain of being angry with God for allowing such tragedy to happen.  There are times I trust God to heal me, but there are also times I find myself praying for Him to forgive me for my unbelief.

The most comforting thing in this tragedy is that I made the decision to donate his organs.  Of course, I would much rather have him here.  But, at least I know his death was not in vain.  Through his organ donation, many others  live on and have a fighting chance to live out their purpose.  Now I know, his purpose was greater than my pain.  The beat goes on, not only for the recipients of his organs, but for a mother which once lost hope.

In the end, I thank God for the twenty-two years with my son.

Renee