Your Health: August 8, 2013 Minority donor awareness - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Your Health: August 8, 2013 Minority donor awareness

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Birmingham, AL -

    There's a tremendous need for more people to say, yes.
     Yes... to organ donation.
  ABC 33/40's Linda Mays tells us when you say yes to organ donation, you're giving new life to so many people.


    Angenetta Smith says, "I wasn't aware that my sister was on dialysis."  "The very next time we were at a family function She mentioned she was getting ready to go home to her dialysis Again and// I said to her well don't complain about doing analysis when I offered you a kidney She said I don't remember you offering a kidney I said well I did so She said I don't want to create any problem with your husband. So I said he's here Let's go and ask him."

 
   Smith says you have to know her husband's sense of humor to understand his answer.
    She says he said sure go ahead and give her both of them. And they laughed.

     Lighthearted humor... A release of lifesaving hope!
     
  That's how 59 year old Angenetta Smith of Birmingham started the process of becoming a living organ donor for her sister, 66 year old Carol Walker in July 2011.

       According to the Alabama Organ Center, getting an organ is a dire situation for most people in need of one.. especially minorities.
     That's why an extra emphasis is being placed on National Minority Donor Awareness Week.
     One-hundred and nineteen thousand Americans are waiting, while only 14,000 people become an organ donor each year.

     Beverly Berry is the Multicultural Educator for the Alabama Organ Center.
    Berry says, "Fourteen thousand won't transplant 119,000 so people die waiting when our look at minorities. Minorities are make up 36 percent of the people, but more than 56% are waiting on transplants and most are waiting on a kidney transplant."
 
    High blood pressure and diabetes are two of the reasons there are so many minorities in need of a transplant.

      The center creates and displays this donor quilt to recognize and honor precious individuals  who have given renewed life to someone else.
 
      Part of the task is to dispel the myths that contribution to the dismal and disproportionate number of minority organ donors.

      Berry says, "One of the main myths that scares people about becoming an organ and tissue donor is they see it on my license they're not gonna try to save my life because they know I'm an organ donor and they are gonna try to kill me and that's not true they are gonna do everything to save your life and after all of those efforts have been exhausted, then we move forward with the donation process still we have to get consent from next of kin before I can take place."
   
     The Alabama organ center located on UAB Hospital's campus is responsible for all of the organ and tissue recovery in the state of Alabama.  
      
      Angenetta Smith's passion to help others led her to volunteer at the organ center after becoming a living kidney donor.
     She eventually became a full time employee there.
     She now takes calls from hospitals when there's a possible organ donor.

      The hope is that more African Americans would answer the call to become a donor and say, yes.

       I would love to encourage more minority members to allow their family members to be donors.

        Every 18 minutes, another person in desperate need of an organ, is added to the waiting list.

      Smith says, "Since giving the kidney to my sister, I really wish I had another to give to someone else because it's such an important thing to give someone else a better quality of life."   
 
    Angenetta says her sister is doing well!
       
      Almost 4,000 Alabamians are waiting for an organ. Most of them need a kidney.    
 
    To become a donor, just say yes to organ donation, when you go the DMV for your driver's license or renewal.
     And they'll indicate it on your drivers license with a heart sticker.
    You can also register online at www.alabamaorgancenter.org.
     It's important you let your family know you're an organ donor.
     Surprisingly, diabetes and hypertension or high blood pressure do not rule you out.

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