Compiled By Milwaukee Courier Staff
Led by its newly developed CodeR Core Team, St. Mark AME Church held a community education session on Wednesday, August 1, to arm its church members and surrounding community with the facts about organ, tissue and eye donation.
Churches for Organ Donation Education and Registration (CodeR) was launched by the BloodCenter of Wisconsin in March 2018 in collaboration with multiple local churches as an effort to elevate organ, tissue and eye donation as a casual conversation in African American communities, while also pressing the importance of staying healthy and being transplant-ready.
“This education session was an amazing opportunity to bond and build our knowledge base as a community,” said Richard Lewis, two-time kidney recipient and St. Mark Core Team Captain. “As people of color, it is important to understand that the more we know about this life-saving mission, the more we’ll register to be donors, and even more lives will be saved through organ and tissue transplants.”
Lewis received his second kidney through a designated donation made possible by his barber, Gaulien Smith from Gee’s Clippers, who connected him to a woman preparing for the death of her 23-year old son with physical abnormalities. “I’m living with a new kidney today because of the power of community connections. Thank God that Gaulien was educated about organ donation and is a true believer of the mission,” Lewis said.
Currently, more than 114,000 people are waiting for organs nationally. In Wisconsin, approximately 2,000 people are on the waiting list and sadly, about 22 people die every day because organs are not available.
“As a major proponent of organ donation, I was excited to attend the education session that was recently held in my neighborhood,” Senator Lena Taylor explained. “Without fail, we know that there are a number of area residents, family members and friends who are waiting on some form of organ donation. We also know that credible messengers are needed to help educate our community on the need for organ donors. Faith organizations, our local barbers, and others can be trusted sources of information to help inform our choices and highlight the importance of this issue” Taylor said.
Organ, tissue and eye donation affects so many across the country, but people right here in Milwaukee are impacted everyday by donation.
To register to become a donor visit, donatelifewisconsin.org. For more information about CodeR call, 414.937.6648 or email, CodeR@bcw.edu.