(JERSEY CITY, NJ) –August is National Minority Donor Awareness Month, a time to honor the generosity of multicultural organ and tissue donors and their families, while also underscoring the critical need for people from diverse communities to register as organ and tissue donors.
A Local Story of Hope
LaVise McCray of Jersey City, 44, is taking time to reflect on the gift of life and the miracle of organ and tissue donation and transplantation after her life was saved in March as a result of her successful kidney transplant at Hackensack University Medical Center. McCray, a retired Jersey City Public School teacher, is now focused on ‘paying it forward’ by supporting NJ Sharing Network’s life-saving mission.
“I share my kidney transplant journey on social media and with everyone that I meet to inspire others to be a symbol of hope and encourage people to register as organ and tissue donors,” said LaVise. “My faith journey has had many triumphs and many challenges, but I never gave up. I am alive today thanks to my amazing medical team, my loving family and friends, and my generous organ donor hero who gave me the gift of life.”
In June 2015, LaVise was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease. She continued to work as a special education teacher while doing her intense dialysis treatments at night. Unfortunately, LaVise’s health concerns worsened over time, and she temporarily lost function in her right hand. In 2022, LaVise was hospitalized frequently, had emergency surgeries, and spend time in the ICU from a variety of health issues. She was placed on the kidney transplant waiting list in March 2023.
“I knew I was getting weaker and weaker, but I prayed to God for a miracle,” said LaVise. “It was a Friday night at 6:30 p.m. when my phone rang. The caller said, ‘Hi LaVise, are you ready?’ I had no clue at first what they were talking about, but the next words changed my life forever. They said, ‘Your kidney is ready.’”
On March 25, 2023, LaVise’s was given a second chance to live life to its fullest thanks to a successful kidney transplant at Hackensack University Medical Center.
According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents are waiting for a life-saving transplant, and 67% are people of color. One organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 people.
Carolyn M. Welsh, President and CEO of NJ Sharing Network, underscores the importance of public education and outreach. “During National Minority Donor Awareness Month and throughout the year, our caring and compassionate team of dedicated staff, volunteers and community partners are unstoppable in their efforts to help educate others and dispel myths and misinformation about organ and tissue donation in our diverse communities throughout New Jersey,” said Welsh.
E. Denise Peoples, Hospital and Community Services Specialist, NJ Sharing Network, is a double-lung transplant recipient and a Newark resident who works throughout the year to promote NJ Sharing Network’s life-saving mission in local schools, faith-based organizations and community associations.
“We have all experienced how health issues such as hypertension, diabetes and kidney failure have impacted those around us – our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors. That is why there is a greater need than ever for donated organs for transplant among our ethnic minorities,” said Peoples.
To learn more, get involved, and join the National Donate Life Registry as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.
PHOTO CAPTION – LaVise McCray (photo courtesy of NJ Sharing Network)