Gloria McKee and her daughter, Kisha McKee, have more in common than your average mother and daughter pair. In addition to both being highly motivated, hard working members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., both women are currently on hemodialysis. Although this shared experience does not relieve the challenges of dialysis, Kisha and Gloria can certainly relate as they both wait for a kidney transplant.
In 2005, Gloria started dialysis treatments and was fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant in 2009, which unfortunately failed within a year. Not long after, in the summer of 2011, symptom-free Kisha suddenly needed dialysis when she found out her kidneys were hardly functioning and near complete failure.
Although both Kisha and Gloria are able to live happy lives while on dialysis, they agree that it can be limiting.
“I go to dialysis three times a week,” Gloria explains. “I used to be an active person—I’m still active, but I haven’t been able to work again because of the time that dialysis occupies.”
Kisha’s situation is similar.
“I had to give up coaching basketball, which I really love,” says Kisha. At one point, Kisha was teaching, coaching basketball, and leading a church group in her spare time. “The minimal amount of time for nocturnal hemodialysis is 6 hours. It’s a huge commitment,” she says.
A transplant would allow the McKees to live happier, less restricted lives.
“Having a transplant would give me back part of my life,” says Gloria.
Kisha adds, “A kidney transplant would allow me to give back to the things that I can’t do now.”
Through their dedication to educating the community about organ transplantation and donation and their involvement with Delta Sigma Theta, the McKees have become part of a program offered by the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) and Gift of Life Michigan’s Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) called Take the Pledge to Save Lives. Take the Pledge is an innovative program focusing on members of Black Greek Letter Organizations, which strives to increase the number of people who sign up for the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. The program is offered to members of participating African American sororities and fraternities and provides training to help members discuss chronic disease prevention and organ donation with peers. Take the Pledge is funded by a grant from the US DHHS, HRSA, Division of Transplantation.
“I talk to people all the time about being a donor,” explains Gloria. “I answer all of their questions and tell them that it’s their choice.” She continues by saying, “I can certainly share with them what it means to be an organ donor, but words cannot fully express the meaning of giving life.”
Nearly 3,000 people are currently waiting in Michigan for all types of organs. Kisha and Gloria McKee are 2 of more than 2,400 people in Michigan waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant, and may wait for as long as 5 to 7 years. Each organ donor can save up to 8 lives, and each tissue donor can improve the lives of up to 50 people.
You can sign up for the Michigan Organ Donor Registry by visiting www.nkfm.org and clicking on “Michigan Organ Donor Registry” on the main page.