Both of my mom’s brothers were organ donors. They’re the reason why I registered to be an organ donor when I went to take my test to get my learner’s permit. I’d like to tell you about their lives while they were alive.
Let’s first talk about one of my uncles. He was an athlete, with his preferred sport being baseball. He was the youngest of three siblings. He was a graduate of Coppin State University and was one of the best freshmen baseball player to ever exist at his university. In early 2003, he found out he was going to be a father. He was very excited. A few days after the baby shower, in October 2003, he died from a severe asthma attack. His organs and corneas were donated. Thanks to him, someone has the ability to see.
My mom’s other brother, the middle child, had hydrocephalus and was autistic (mostly non-verbal, but knew some words). He loved to dance and his siblings were rightfully very protective of him. My grandparents refused to institutionalize him, which was a typical fate for people with cognitive disabilities back in the 1970s. He had a tooth pulled at the dentist office, and that’s when health problems started. He died of pneumonia in January 2007, a week after his birthday. I don’t know what organs were donated, but due to his pneumonia, his lungs could not be donated (what organs can be donated depends on cause of death).
Although my uncles walked two different paths of life, they still helped to save and enhance lives. You don’t have to be a celebrity or a well-known activist to make a difference in the world.
In a previous blog post, I mentioned that 58% of people waiting for a new organ are people of color (a broad term for people who are not white). How did I get this percentage? Did I pull it out of my butt? No. The following image is based on statistics from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network as of April 14, 2017.
100 minus 42 equals 58. 42% of people on the transplant list are white. 30% are African-American/Black. 19% are Hispanic/Latinx (Latinx is an inclusive term for Latino/Latina and is used to be inclusive of people who identify as gender non-binary). 8% are Asian or Pacific Islander. 1% of waiting recipients are Native American or Alaska Native. Finally, less than 1% of people waiting for a new organ belong to two or more races.
So why am I raising awareness for multicultural communities to donate? Here’s an answer from Donate Life’s FAQ page on why it’s important to become a donor.
Although donation and transplantation can take place successfully between individuals from different racial or ethnic groups, transplant success is often better when organs are matched between people of the same racial or ethnic background.
People of African American/Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native and multiracial descent currently make up nearly 58% of individuals on the national organ transplant waiting list. These communities are in great need of more organ and tissue donors.
Want a way to make a difference? How about posting a video as part of a video contest? Once again, Donate Life is hosting a video contest in regards to spreading awareness of how Every Community Has the Opportunity to make a difference in the world of organ donation. This contest runs from today, July 11th through 5 PM Eastern Time on July 22nd.
This year’s theme is #HearMyStoryOf. Before there was social media, before you could record videos, and even before the existence of written languages, storytelling has existed in all cultures. Use the power of storytelling to share your story of organ donation, spread the message of ECHO, and encourage people to become organ, eye, and tissue donors.
The first place winner gets a $500 Amazon gift card. The second place winner gets a $250 Amazon gift card. The third place winner gets a $100 Amazon gift card. If you post a video to Donate Life’s Facebook page today, you are eligible to win a $100 Amazon gift card for the best Early Bird entry.
So what do you need to do in order to be eligible for a prize? Full details can be found here, but to keep it brief…
Create an original video. Nothing that is copyright protected can be used in your video. If it is, you will be disqualified.
Your video must be one minute or less in length.
Your video needs to be in .mp4, .m4v, or .mov format.
Upload your video to Donate Life’s Facebook page by 5 PM Eastern time on July 22nd. If you upload the video late, you will not be eligible to win.
On the second and third full weeks of July, Donate Life holds a national two-week event called ECHO. ECHO stands for Every Community Has Opportunity and focuses on organ and tissue donation within multicultural communities. Donate Life ECHO was started in 2015 when Donate Life partnered with Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation (AMAT) (Source)
This year, ECHO will be celebrated from July 9th through July 22nd. This means that I will be making blog posts throughout these two weeks related to ECHO. Any unrelated blog posts will be scheduled to be released after July 22nd. For those two weeks, this blog will be dedicated to raising awareness in hopes to increase the number of people of color who choose to sign up to be an organ donor.
Why is this cause important to me? I’m a person of color. Not only am I a person of color, I’m someone who wants to help people of color make a positive impact, especially in a presidency where we’re made to seem like we’re less than human. People of color have just as many opportunities to make a positive impact on someone’s life as white people.
If you would like to help raise awareness of ECHO, there are many ideas that are given by Donate Life. For example, there is a video contest from July 11th through July 22nd. The video you upload to YouTube must be one minute or less, an original video, and uploaded to Donate Life’s Facebook page by 5 PM Eastern Time on July 22nd. Contest rules. There are social media images you can use that are found here (scroll down to Social Media Graphics and Phrases) and are mainly in English and Spanish, although the sample phrases also come in the languages of Korean, Tagalog, and Chinese.
Be on the lookout for my upcoming posts related to ECHO, and I hope I won’t be the only person on WordPress talking about how every community has the opportunity to save a life.
This post will be kind of quick because my cousin is arriving from North Carolina tonight and will be staying in this state for nearly the entire month of July. Since he will sometimes be at this house, my blogging may be a bit lacking.
Near the beginning of June, I came up with goals. Let’s see if I accomplished those goals.
Goal 1: Learn a new life skill. For this goal, I decided to learn to cook something following a recipe. I made lasagna and had minimal help from my dad. Goal completed!
Goal 2: Start learning and using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques. I actually started doing this shortly before making this goal. The technique I used this month was journaling. You just write in your journal about how you’re feeling. I had to do this with my second therapist and my blog post about how I felt about being diagnosed with a very mild case of ADHD is an example of journaling (trigger warning on that blog post: mention of suicidal thoughts).
Goal 3: Get my yellow belt in kickboxing. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen in June. Probably because my coach was away from the class for a few days due to attending his girlfriend’s mom’s funeral. However, I was told that I will soon be testing for my yellow belt shortly after he comes back from July 4th weekend (also his birthday weekend).
Goal 4: Finally start reading the book “Harmony” by Karis Walsh. I finally started reading… on the last day of June. Hey, can’t have more than one unmet goal! I’ll do a review on the book after I finish reading it (whenever that is…). Once again, I have to do the review here because it’s an LGBT book and I don’t want any of my YouTube videos to be restricted.
Goal 5: Start doing exercises outside of kickboxing class. I have been doing this. I mainly use weights and I helped a co-worker move into his new apartment this past Tuesday after work.
I went to the doctor yesterday for a physical and tetanus booster. I won’t find out the blood test results for another few days.
For a few years now, I’ve been having trouble focusing. For a few years now, I’ve been having short-term memory issues. Last week, my issues started affecting my job so I decided to see a doctor about it. I was given a self-assessment for ADHD and my doctor reviewed it. I have a very mild case of ADHD, and right now, I’m not going to be put on medication unless it gets worse.
So now I have another thing cognitively wrong with me (ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, undiagnosed depression, possible undiagnosed autism). I’m considered disabled now since ADHD is a disability. I can’t get treated for my ADHD because it’s so mild and the medication could cause issues with my heart. I have a naturally high heart rate and ADHD medications are stimulants. My doctor is just going to monitor my ADHD for now. I know mindfulness won’t work; that’s hippie bullshit that hasn’t been proven effective and is just a fad.
Ever since my diagnosis yesterday, I’ve been having constant suicidal thoughts. I can’t talk to anyone about it and I can’t call the suicide hotline. Even doing kickboxing today couldn’t stop the suicidal thoughts, and it always does.
I should check myself into the hospital, but I can’t. I’m meeting up with my Godfather this evening for dinner and I promised my co-worker that I’d pick him up from the train station tomorrow. He’s returning from Florida after visiting his dad from the hospital.
I want my brain fixed. I want to be normal. I want to live to see my 25th birthday, even though I keep feeling that I’ll die before then.
I know it’s weird to mention goals this late in the month, but I’m doing it anyway! You can’t stop me! I haven’t set goals for myself since January, and although I don’t set goals each month, I feel like setting goals will help me become closer to who I want to be.
Learn a new life skill. I’m very far behind in regards to independent life. If I learn life skills, I can finally move out of my parents’ house. I’ll probably learn how to properly cook first because my cooking skills are limited to using the microwave and boiling water to make food. Gosh darnit, I want some chicken orzo soup sometimes!
Start learning and using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques. Seeing as how my mental health has been getting worse since last year and therapy didn’t help me at all with my issues, I’m going to do things myself. I mainly did cognitive behavioral therapy with my second therapist, and I felt like this was the most effective thing for me. I even stopped picking at my skin for awhile! I found a site that has cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that I can do on my own. In a later blog post, I will talk about techniques I have learned in therapy and techniques that I learned online.
Get my yellow belt in kickboxing. Typically, kickboxing classes don’t have belts. I think this is a way to track progress and see what there is to learn next. We don’t have official tests until black belt, but the coach decides when we have earned our belt. My kickboxing coach is a godan (5th degree black belt) in karate and a former professional kickboxer. I hope I get my yellow belt this month because he said it takes 3 to 6 months to be able to get a yellow belt for the kickboxing class and I’ve been doing this for more than 4 months.
Finally start reading the book “Harmony” by Karis Walsh. I’ve had that book since Christmas and haven’t read it yet. That was because I wanted to save the book so I could read it during jury duty selection back in January. They didn’t need me to come in, though. Even if I only read a chapter or two this month, at least I finally read it.
Start doing some exercises outside of kickboxing class. I have a set of 3-pound weights and 8-pound weights at home (they were my dad’s. The 3-pound weights were for his physical therapy after his shoulder surgery 3 years ago), I have a treadmill, and I have enough space to do ab work and work on my splits (I can almost go all the way down when my right leg is forward and I’m so happy about that!). Exercising outside of class could help me become a better kickboxer in regards to strength and stamina. Maybe my co-worker would want to spar or something.
Wow, that’s more goals than I originally thought of (goals one and three were my original goals for this month)! I should be able to do it though, although the yellow belt in kickboxing will be the hardest goal to achieve this month because although it’s up to me to work hard, the coach has the final say in when I get my belt. So tell me, readers, what goals do you have for this month or the next few months?