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One Hero initiative hopes to give ‘second chance at life’

Nia Llenas: 'To get that second chance at life, we can step up and do this one small thing'
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Posted at 3:29 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 15:36:21-04

HENRICO COUNTT, Va. -- Darrell Jackson is holding onto hope, and a dream of receiving a life changing kidney transplant as he prays daily that a matching donor is found.

The Henrico father said something as small as checking the organ donor box on your driver’s license could be monumental to him and tens of thousands of others on the transplant list.

“I’m 63 years old now and if I were to get a transplant now, maybe it would last me the rest of my life,” Jackson said.

RELATED: Virginia man waiting for kidney transplant says pandemic has 'really taken a toll'

Nia Llenas said there is a critical need for African Americans organ and tissue donors in Virginia.

It is so concerning, the organization she works for, LifeNet Health launched its One Hero campaign to build support, share information and address misconceptions around organ donation that are keeping registration rates low in African American communities in Virginia.

About 2,500 Virginians are waiting for an organ and African Americans make up 45 percent of that wait list.

“I don’t think people realize we are suffering. Us and Latinos are suffering on the transplant list, waiting six and seven years on dialysis, which is brutal," Llenas explained. "To get that second chance at life, we can step up and do this one small thing, which is register."

African Americans make up about one third of the nearly 180,000 adults and children on the national organ transplant list.

At least three Virginians die each week because a life-saving organ is not available in time.

Increasing minority donations means more people like Jackson in desperate need of a transplant can live.

“The first step is to register. Lifenethealth.org," Llenas urged. "Make your wishes known to your family and friends and those who care for you."

She also explained that the One Hero campaign website highlights important facts and stories of those affected by donation.

It also includes the One Hero podcast which features health experts and guests sharing their own stories.

Soon, Jackson’s might be included and he is praying that by spreading the word even more, a matching donor might be found, to give him a new lease on life.