Georges Annan-Kingsley is my friend. As a long persecuted political refugee from Côte d’Ivoire, Georges suffered chronic, stress-induced hypertension causing his kidneys to fail. After a long, courageous bureaucratic struggle to escape western Africa via Ghana, aided by the French consulate, Georges received medical refugee status in the United States. He arrived in near fatal condition. He was saved by immediate access to medical attention.
His life is interrupted three times a week with grueling dialysis sessions necessary to keep him alive. With his disability he’s barely able to muster the strength to help raise his family. Because his abilities are diminished he is limited in following career pursuits and engaging in community life. He’s an accomplished artist (he has a painting on display at the White House), teacher, radio host, and Asylum Hill community leader championing the acculturation of arriving refugees and immigrants into this thriving Hartford, CT neighborhood. But for long-term survival Georges needs a kidney transplant. Despite his struggles, he keeps a positive, constantly smiling attitude. George has hope.
Georges’ way of life is the norm for all in need of a kidney transplant. Like many of our friends, family, colleagues, and the millions of people we will never know, kidney disease has a fierce grip on their lives. Its causes are many, ranging from genetic predisposition, diabetes, hypertension, and insulin resistance to lifestyle causes such as physical inactivity, poor diets, and obesity.
So what can we do about it?
We can follow Georges’ lead. Georges is championing another cause, the urgent need for the healthy people among us to become Living Donor Champions.
“A Living Donor Champion is someone who helps spread the story of a loved one in need of a living kidney donor. The Champion helps share their story and raise awareness about kidney disease, transplantation, and living kidney donation. The goal is to find a potential living donor for their loved one.”
Please read the brochure below and consider making a life changing difference by becoming a Living Donor Champion.
If you would like to talk with Georges directly, which he is willing to do, please reply to my blog with your contact information. I will forward it to him.
Photos by Don Shaw, Jr. “Champions Needed” flyer provided by Georges Annan-Kingsley
Don Shaw, Jr. Writer and Editor RedTruckStonecatcher.com