Ten years ago, my life changed forever. My 11-year-old world was turned upside and suddenly I was no longer a little girl.
It was a brisk December morning when I received the call that I had received a heart from the transplant waiting list. A few days later, I woke up receiving word that I had also become the recipient of successful dual heart and kidney transplant. Though doctors predicted that I would not live to see the age of 20, I am defying the odds as a 21-year-old medical miracle.
I had my first near death experience all before I started the 8th grade. Though I was quite young, I knew I was one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately, there are over 114, 971 people waiting for an organ transplant. These numbers continue to grow each day and a large number of those on the transplant waiting list do not survive. Sadly, nearly 18 people die each day waiting for the gift of life through an organ transplant.
As I laid in recovery, I remembered I was a survivor. I survived for a reason and I was given a second chance to live while others did not. Life is a compilation of precious moments that we cannot take for granted because in a split second your life can end.
In 2009, I started my own charity Sacred Hearts Children's Transplant Foundation in an effort to spread awareness about registering to become an organ donor. My non-profit has distributed hundreds of teddy bears, books, and gifts to children waiting for organ transplants. I chose to celebrate ten years of life by giving back to my community and making an impact. My organ transplants taught me to be a fighter. I've had to fight for my health and now I choose to fight for low-income communities as the founder of Project ASCEND -- a grant program that has been successful in assisting over 100 low-income students in the DC metropolitan area.
I am celebrating ten years of life through public service. Giving back to my community gives me life. The greater essence of public service is the ability to alter the lives of other people. Ten years ago, a brave 22-year-old woman registered to become an organ donor. Tragically, she lost her life in a car crash. Little did she know how much the decision to check 'yes' to become an organ donor would alter my life forever. As I celebrate ten years of life, I am reminded of the power that all of us hold to make a difference in the lives of others.
You can help me continue this work by voting for my organizations to receive the BET Black Girls Rock Making A Difference Award/Grant. You can support our efforts from September 10th to September 18th by voting for my non-profit to receive a $2,500 grant from Crest and to be honored on the televised BET Black Girls Rock Award show. You can vote by visiting here. Help me change the world and make a difference by voting today.