Transplant Gives Pastor New Life

Becoming an organ donor is something most never think about.   Right now more than 85,000 people are awaiting life-saving transplants.  While 35 % of those on the waiting list are african-american, african-americans make up just a small percentage of donors.

One national group is trying to change that by making August 1, "National Minority Donor Awareness Day".

East Texan Delbert Simpson knows all too well why donating is so important.  He's been the pastor at Rock Hill Baptist Church in Cuney for the last 8 years.  In september of 2000, a sickness put both his future at the church and his life... in jeopardy

"I had been sick off an on, as a matter of fact I had been to the doctor a couple of times and they had given me blood pressure medicine and I would take that medicine for that month until it was gone and I was feeling real good and I would say 'I'm alright now I don't need it anymore'."

Simpson did need something.  It would be another few weeks before the 41-year-old was diagnosed with 98% kidney failure.

"The first few months, it was pretty rough on me.  I would have to go home and get in the bed and stay in the bed all evening and most the next day," he said.  "After two or three weeks probably they started coming in and talking to me about it but i didn't actually get on the (transplant) list until I believe it was January 2001."

It would be three years before Simpson would move up that transplant list.  In March of this year he finally got the call.  A donor was available, but he would be third on the list.  The family never lost hope.

"About every hour they would come in and tell me Mr. Simpson one person has been canceled out, about an hour later they came in and said Mr. Simpson another person has been canceled and about 11 they came in and said Mr. Simpson congratulations your gonna get the kidney."

"He always said 'One day I'm gonna get a kidney', in the pulpit, at home, 'I'm not worried about it when God gets ready to give me a kidney I'm gonna get a kidney," said wife Vanessa.

Mrs. Simpson said the last three years have been tough, but believes god has a plan for her husband.

"He's a people person so I feel that he will be able to get the message across to someone and be real helpful to someone in the future."

With a new kidney, Delbert hopes that future gets even better.

"Everything is going fine, just wonderful... looking forward to going back to work."

Doctors at East Texas Medical Center in Tyler performed Delbert Simpsons kidney transplant  ETMC says 43% of transplant recipients at their hospital are african-american while just 11% of donors are black.

To learn more about organ donation or to find out how you can become a donor click on the link below.

Chris Gibson, reporting