Tennessee Donor Services

More than 100 thousand Americans are currently waiting for an organ transplant. Three thousand of these patients are Tennesseans.

August is Minority Donation Awareness Month -- Cornelia Nicholson shares how one patient is encouraging others to sign up as donors.

For several years Victor Bryant battled high blood pressure and diabetes.

"A very very large percentage of minorities have those two things running together, which eventually killed my kidney."

As a social butterfly, Bryant says his condition hit him hard.

He spent seven and a half years missing work and special events because he was getting dialysis treatment three times a week.

"If you wanted to travel or do other things you had to plan a weekend trip, or you had to have special arrangements to have dialysis wherever you were so it made me miss out, so I'm just not going anywhere."

With a failed kidney, Bryant needed a transplant.

He says certain myths around organ donations stopped him from getting on the list.

He explained, "The thought that if another human's organ is inside of me it would be like the exorcist some kind of foreign thing would take over my body and have me doing foreign things for the most part."

Bryant says he also worried if the donor was a smoker or drinker - those traits would pass on to him.

He finally overcame his fears when he noticed his other dialysis buddies were getting transplants.

He contacted Tennessee Donor Services which helped guide him through the process of getting a new kidney. But Bryant says he received more than a kidney - he also got a new chance at life.

"So, now I'm able to go back to work. I'm able to travel and I'm able to basically live the life I had prior to going on dialysis."

Now he's using his new lease on life to encourage the minority community to register as donors.

"We are the largest receivers of donations and we tend to donate in much smaller numbers. I think a lot of people if they recognized that and became a little more educated and hear our stories and see how it's been able to give us that next push and say he we still have more work to do."