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  1. A 756-word press-ready article. Discusses the experience of an African American mother donating her teenage son's organs, after he was pronounced brain dead. His organs helped to save the life of three people.  Speaks about the need for donors in the African American community. Written by Valerie D. Lockhart, publisher and executive editor of the Detroit Native Sun. She has over 20 years’ experience as a newspaper editor and was the former Associate Editor of the Michigan Chronicle, the state’s oldest African American owned newspaper. She has won several awards in journalism that includes the Lincoln University Unity Awards in Media.



     It was a mother’s worse nightmare.

     As Markita Lewis sat beside her 13-year-old son’s hospital bed for seven days waiting and praying for him to open his eyes, doctors delivered grim news pronouncing him brain dead. The teen suffered from an asthma attack and went into cardiac arrest.

     Amid her agonizing grief, Lewis made a tough decision that she hopes other African Americans will make as well – to donate her son, Marquis Woods’, organs.

      “My son saved three lives, and the gift of life saved me. I’ve always knew how important it was to become an organ donor, so when we were faced with that challenge I went right to the nurses and asked does Marquis qualify to become an organ donor,” Lewis recalled. “I like to call myself a proud donor mom, because we have amazing recipients carrying my son’s legacy along.”

     According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans make up the largest group of minorities in need of an organ transplant. In 2020, blacks made up 28.5 percent of all candidates waiting for a transplant. Whereas only 12.9 percent were donors.

     Out of the number of African Americans awaiting an organ transplant only 27.7 percent received a transplant in 2020 compared to 47.6 percent of Caucasian transplant recipients.  

    One organ donor can save up to eight lives, and tissue donors can help up to 75 people. Anyone can become a potential donor regardless of race, age, and medical condition.

     “I am alive because Markita gave her son’s kidney to someone who needed it. And, that someone was me,” Keith “Bubba” Wagner said. “Markita means a lot to me, because she gave me a shot at a second life.”

The Gift of Life: Reasons why black donors are needed