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Ossie, Heart Recipient

Inspiring Others to Consider Organ Donation, One Significant Emotional Event at a Time

Ossie Carey describes the phone call relaying that there was a heart transplant match for him as a SEE, which the military terms a “Significant Emotional Event”.

“I actually got a little weak in the knees,” he said. “I had to pass the phone to my wife because it was one of the most shocking calls I’ve ever received.”

Although the call was initially a surprise, everything with Carey’s surgery went according to plan, and he was out of the hospital in about two weeks. Carey credits his active lifestyle as a reason for doing so well post-transplant. “I was a high school athlete, had a scholarship to play college football, and instead joined the military where I stayed for 30 years,” he said. “Even now, I’m in pretty good shape. People can’t believe I’ve had a heart transplant.”

Putting a face to organ donation is something that Carey believes is now part of his mission. Minorities make up the majority of those on the waitlist for an organ transplant, which is why he celebrates campaigns like National Minority Donor Awareness Month that helps to close the gap between available life-saving organs and the need among diverse communities. “It’s important to me to educate people about organ donation and get them comfortable with the process,” he said. “Anything we can do to bridge the gap would be a huge help to the African American population.”

Carey now spends part of his time speaking to men’s groups and being an advocate for organ donation. Hearing from someone like him, who is proof that organ donation saves lives, has made a difference. “I was very surprised at how receptive the people have been,” he added. “They’ve shared stories of relatives who were on the waiting list. Or they will tell me they signed up to become a registered organ donor because they realized it does no good for a person to die and not have the opportunity to help someone.”

To help others understand the impact organ donation has, Carey points to the first time he met his donor family and learned about his donor, named Ryan. “Our first encounter with them was very emotional, I still get choked up thinking about it,” he said. “They put the stethoscope on me and his family listened to my heart. In that moment they realized it was their son, his heart is actually still beating in me and I’m alive. It was breathtaking.”

National Minority Donor Awareness Month hopes to help save and heal the lives of diverse communities and bring heightened awareness to the health disparities that exist for minorities. Carey knows that changing the conversation around organ, eye and tissue donation across all ethnic groups can be done, one significant emotional event at a time.

And it’s a goal that is much bigger than any one person. “We are divided as a nation so bad right now,” he said. “Organ donation is something that can contribute to mankind. Life is beautiful for me. If you have the opportunity to help give life to someone else, I would encourage you to be that blessing.” Register to become an organ, eye and tissue donor today.

More Stories of Hope

Register to be an Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor

More than 100,000 people are waiting for a life-saving transplant. Transplants rely on the generosity of organ, eye and tissue donors, and there are not enough donors to meet the need. You can help.