A conversation between two friends led to a kidney transplant that saved one friend’s life; and added the joy of having been able to give that gift to the other’s life. Recent studies show that living-donor kidney transplants have tripled over the last several years. Still, an average of about 20 people die each day as a result of not having enough donated organs. Still further, every ten minutes someone is added to the waiting list.
In 2007 after deciding that “dialysis three days a week, four hours a day,” was not the path he wanted to take, Marion S. Barry, Jr. asked a few friends to consider donating a kidney to him. One of those friends, Kim Dickens, said yes. And so the process began to see if they were a match. They were. Now, on the fifth anniversary of the successful kidney transplant, Marion Barry, Kim Dickens and a group of friends and supporters are launching The Marion Barry-Kim Dickens Kidney Foundation.
His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table – Samsa was a travelling salesman.
The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked. “What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream.
This we Promise
The Foundation will focus on raising awareness regarding organ donation. Marion believes the work has to be a “crusade” of sorts; and based on her own experience, Kim underlines the importance of helping people to understand the processes. This foundation is committed to educating people; and to working with potential donors to overcome any fears and apprehensions they may have.
According to the National Kidney Foundation there are 120,990 people in need of organ donations today in the United States. Of this number 99,201 (82%) are waiting for kidneys. Bradley Warady, a medical adviser for the National Kidney Foundation said, “The worst thing that can happen obviously is to have patients die while waiting for organs. But it happens every day.” Through the work of their new foundation, Marion and Kim hope/plan to lower the number of deaths that occur because there simply aren’t enough donor organs available.
Community outreach will play an integral role in achieving the Foundation’s goal of raising awareness. Marion and Kim will personally engage in efforts to move the masses toward a clearer understanding of what it means to be a part of the organ donor and transplant community.
The Foundation will engage in peer to peer, B2B and a host of other solutions in its work to increase the number of living and deceased donors. Specifically tailored community organizing strategies will be employed for those groups whose numbers are particularly low regarding participation. For instance (currently among living donors): African Americans (11.1%); and men (38.6%) will receive heightened outreach attention.
What must be made clear though is that people of every age, race, gender, religion and socio-economic status are touched by and should be involved with this far-reaching need. We cannot turn away from the fact that in 2013 of the 99,201 kidney transplants that were needed, only 14,029 transplants were performed. The Marion Barry-Kim Dickens Kidney Foundation invites all to join in changing these figures and saving lives.