: News

Filed Under:

African-Americans Struggle For Kidney Donations

Play associated audio

By Rebecca Sheir

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports more than a third of people awaiting kidney transplants in the U.S. are African-American, yet they are less likely to receive transplanted kidneys than whites.

But in a mass kidney exchange performed in the D.C. area, more than half the recipients are African-American.

Dr. Jimmy Light performed some of the transplants in the historic swap, which involved a chain of nearly 30 people giving and receiving kidneys. Many of the recipients had been on dialysis for years.

"Dialysis keeps you alive, but a transplant lets you live," he says. "These people have their lives."

That would be the 14 recipients, nine of whom are African-American.

Light says African-Americans have the best chance of a successful kidney transplant from a black donor. But finding one can be tough, since African-Americans are more prone to diabetes and high blood pressure, and, therefore, kidney disease.

Barbara Norton, a white woman from Rockville, Maryland, donated her kidney to Tracye Johnson, an African-American woman from Waldorf.

"What I realized immediately was there’s a desperate need to address those suffering from kidney disease," Norton says, "especially those in the African-American community."

Two weeks after the transplant, Tracye Johnson says she feels worlds better than before.

"I made up t-shirts to try to find a donor," she recalls. "My t-shirts said: ‘I Need A Donor, So I Can Have Wings To Fly.’ And she’s given me wings to fly!"

Johnson says she looks forward to a brand "new life."

WAMU 88.5

The Music And Legacy Of Motown

Motown founder Berry Gordy and director Charles Randolph-Wright of “Motown the Musical" join Diane for a conversation about the history of Detroit's famous sound.

WAMU 88.5

Will Montgomery County Go "Bottoms Up" On Liquor Laws?

Since Prohibition, Montgomery County has held the purse strings on liquor sales, meaning the county sells every drink from beer to bourbon to local bars and restaurants. But local business owners are pushing back from this system, claiming it lacks efficiency and leaves customers waiting. County officials say they are holding out for alternatives that protect those within the industry. We discuss both sides of the issue today.

WAMU 88.5

Exelon's Chief Strategy Officer On Its Proposed Takeover Of Pepco

Kojo chats with Exelon's chief strategy officer about the company's vision for electric service in the Washington region, and its argument for why its acquisition of Pepco is in the best interest of customers.

WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.