August is National Minority Donor Awareness Month and data shows that people of color make up more than half of the people on the National Transplant waiting list, but only account for about 35% of donations.
William Lewis‘ wife Kimberly died after a sudden stroke in 2014.
“It was such an emotional event and I thought well I don’t want anybody to touch her leave her be this is not going to happen,” Lewis said.
Before getting married, Lewis said they made a commitment to become organ donors after watching two family members wait for kidney transplants that never came.
After his wife died, William got a call. He said compassion from others helped him move forward in the process of his wife saving lives.
“I think if she was here and could see what was happening I think she’d be very pleased and giving God the praise,” said Lewis.
However, for many minority communities, the decision to become a donor sparks fear and questions.
“Our mission is the same. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a black person doing it, or anybody else is doing it. It’s really about getting the message out and giving people the option to be able to save a life,” Elliott Stubblefield, multicultural development coordinator with the Indiana Donor Network.
Stubblefield said it’s important to know the organ and tissue recovery process won’t interrupt funeral services and that pre-existing conditions won’t automatically keep you from being a donor.
One donor has the ability to save 75 lives through organ and tissue donations. With so many minorities on the waiting list, Lewis hopes more people make the choice to get on the giving list.
“I am here to tell you for a fact that it’s not anything based on race, or your gender, or your income, or your social status it’s about saving lives,” said Lewis.
You can sign up to be an organ donor through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or online.