Reverend Dr. T. Allen Bethel, senior pastor at Maranatha Church, waited for two years on a transplant list to get his life-altering phone call.
While being on-call for the ministry, Dr. Bethel was also on-call for a kidney, and ironically it was a member of his congregation, a White woman, who provided his lifesaving organ.
Bethel says many people of color need to increase their awareness of what American Red Cross and Donate Life Northwest programs are all about.
"These organizations are about more that just wanting a donation — they give people a chance to extend their lives," he says. "Many people do not even think about the need for red blood cells, platelets, or the availability of an organ for transplant, until the need occurs."
The facts about Organ Donation are startling. An average of 18 people will die today awaiting an organ transplant in the United States. The number of men, women and children in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant is quickly approaching 100,000 — and 1,900 of these individuals live in the Pacific Northwest.
Bethel says he believes negative myths about donation are perpetuated through word of mouth, but he encourages local residents to investigate blood and organ donation, do the research independently and make a decision based on facts.
As of today, Bethel remains on anti-rejection and immune suppressing medications.
"I am doing great and it is amazing how good you can feel, post-transplant," he said.
He wants to encourage others to donate blood and to sign up for the organ donor registry. The sixth-annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Blood and Organ Donor Registry Drive will be held at the American Red Cross Portland Headquarters, 3131 N. Vancouver Avenue Saturday, Jan. 24, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Community members can donate blood, learn more about organ donation, and sign up for the donor registry at the blood drive.
The event is co-sponsored by the American Red Cross, Donate Life Northwest, The Skanner News Group, Safeway, and The Urban League. Each presenting donor will receive a complimentary Martin Luther King, Jr. special-edition pin, while supplies last. There will also be a drawing for a $100 Safeway gift card, free health screening by Roosevelt Power Academy students, and a 15 percent off coupon for a training class or one item in the Red Cross store.
Blood donation starts with a simple phone call to American Red Cross, dial
1-800-GIVE LIFE (1-800 448-3543) to make an appointment to donate at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blood and Organ Donor Drive on Saturday, Jan. 24.