Links to hold ‘Donor Sabbath’

Published 10:11 pm Thursday, November 17, 2016

Most folks face the choice of becoming organ donors only when they consider checking a box at the DMV.

However, there is a shortage of donors, so the Suffolk chapter of the Links Inc. plans to make a push on Sunday to get more people involved.

The “Donor Sabbath” event will take place at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church Mahan Street, 112 Mahan St.

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Links members will discuss the need for donors, dispel myths and collect cheek swab samples to add to a bone marrow donor registry. A physician will discuss the process of organ and tissue donation, and an organ recipient who is a member at First Baptist Mahan will talk about her experience.

All are welcome to attend the service.

“The Donor Sabbath is basically an avenue for us to reach faith-based communities,” said Gloria Spruiell of the Suffolk chapter of the Links. “That normally means that we’re going to do it on a Sunday, during a Sunday service.”

The effort to grow the donor pool among the African-American community is a national initiative by the Links, Spruiell said.

“We’re trying to encourage organ, tissue and bone marrow donations, particularly in our African-American communities, because of the severe shortage of donors of color,” Spruiell said.

“It’s more likely that if you are of African-American heritage, you’re going to match with someone of your own race.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 30 percent of those currently waiting for an organ donation are African-American. Only about 43 percent are Caucasian, making people of color the majority of those in need.

The need for organ donation in the African-American community also is greater, due to the higher rates of high blood pressure, kidney failure, heart disease and other conditions, Spruiell said.

Sharon Edwards Reid, a heart donation recipient, will speak about her experience during this Sunday’s event. She shared her medical difficulties with the church as they happened, Spruiell said, and now is recovering after receiving the transplant about a year ago.

“Everybody’s really excited, because they’ve actually witnessed firsthand seeing one of our members deteriorate, and then receive a heart and basically get her life back again,” Spruiell said.

“It’s remarkable to see her from where she was to where she is now.”