Gift of Life hoping to make a bigger difference in the Black community

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- New Jersey veteran and Gift of Life donor-recipient Joe Pratt points out that there can be acts of heroism not only on the battlefield but also in the hospital.

Gift of Life is our region's organ and transplant organization which has successfully coordinated more than 52,000 life-saving organ transplants in the past 13 years. But there are many, many more still on the waitlist.

Pratt received a life-saving double-lung transplant through the Gift of Life Donor Program 8 years ago. The Vietnam Veteran is a retired Army Major and a U.S. Presidential Bronze Star Recipient, totaling about 20 years in the US Army.

When Pratt was in his late 60's, he began experiencing shortness of breath. His wife insisted he go to the doctor, and that's when he learned he suffered from incurable lung disease.

Pratt was then put on the Gift of Life donor waitlist, and soon after got a call from Temple University Hospital that forever changed his life. As soon as Pratt recovered from the rare double-lung transplant procedure, Pratt started paying it forward, becoming an ambassador for the Gift of Life.

CEO and President of the Gift of Life Donor Program Howard M. Nathan say just one organ donation can save up to 8 lives and one tissue donor can save up to 100 lives. You can sign up to become an organ donor when you register or renew your driver's license or state I.D. You can also sign up on their website.

Howard tells us that 40% of the people on donor waiting lists are African American and that there is some reluctance in the African American community to register.

Transplant Coordinator Kimberlee Mander serves as an advocate for both donors and recipients. She tackles common myths and misconceptions that make people reluctant to register as a donor. Mander tells us "you can touch people that you may never see in ways that you'll never know, but you will be doing good."

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