Ronnie Howard’s journey through organ transplantation was not an easy one. But throughout it all, he remained positive in the face of so much adversity. “I had two near-death experiences during the course of my years in kidney failure and on dialysis,” he said. “Being hooked up on dialysis for hours at a time and not being able to help my wife with our twin boys was one of the hardest things to go through.”
Howard’s faith and unwavering desire to live to see his boys grow up propelled him to keep going. And after a living kidney fell through, it was the power of prayer that once again lifted him up. “I was having lunch with my friend and he asked if he could pray for me,” Howard said. “When we looked up there were 10 or 15 people around us who heard me talking. One by one, they hugged me and said ‘you’re going to get a kidney.’ It was one of the most touching moments of my entire life.”
And sure enough two days later and almost two years to the exact day that Howard was told he was in kidney failure, he got the call and was wheeled into surgery to get his new kidney. With a new lease on life, Howard is determined to make the most of it. “I run about 24 miles a week, I get up at 4 a.m. every morning. I’m now head of the school I taught at. Everything has gone up. It’s the greatest blessing I’ve ever had,” he said.
Part of the way Howard hopes to give back is by closing the gap between available life-saving organs and the need among diverse communities. Minorities make up the majority of those on the waitlist for an organ transplant, which is why Howard celebrates campaigns like National Minority Donor Awareness Month, commemorated every year in August. “With so many Black people suffering from kidney failure and diabetes, we need to be the ones to supply the missing pieces,” he said. “We need to be able to help each other.”
By changing the conversation around organ, eye and tissue donation across all ethnicities, the 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. Equally important is to encourage more people of color to sign up as organ, eye and tissue donors. One voice, one vision: to save and heal lives. Register to become an organ, eye and tissue donor today.