Organ Donors Are a Gift of Hope

Providing hope in the community is the foundation of Sharifah Hardie who is running for CA Senate District 33 in the 2024 Election. Ms. Hardie’s community that extends from Long Beach to Huntington Park is one of support and strength, but it still comes with challenges especially when it comes to access to health initiatives.

The House of Representatives took action on July 20, 2023, indicated a commitment to reevaluate and potentially overturn a policy implemented in response to the events of September 11, 2001. That action is one of the many reasons why I am running to protect and serve my constituents. 

Prior to the 9/11 events, vital organs, primarily kidneys, were transported within the passenger cabin of commercial flights under the watchful eye of the flight crew. The packaged organs were carefully positioned in or near the cockpit shortly before takeoff and promptly retrieved upon landing. The September 11 attacks prompted significant revisions to airport security protocols, which no longer permitted transplant professionals without a boarding pass to accompany organs through security. Consequently, organs are presently transported in the aircraft’s cargo hold.

The passing Section 834 of H.R. 3934, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act is good news for people like Nikki Rich who is a TV and radio personality, the producer of the Nikki Rich show, and an educator. Hailing from Seneca, South Carolina, to the big city of Los Angeles County, was a game changer. 

She has been the broadcasting world since I was just nine years old. It started on my daddy’s gospel radio station in Seneca. I began by reading announcements, but that was just the beginning. I was hungry for more, and the world of media was calling my name.

Her online presence played a significant role in opening doors for her. TMZ reached out and featured her regularly, proving that the move to online was 100% real.

But life has its twists and turns, and in September 2017, while doing a live TV taping in Florida, she fell ill. Nikki returned home feeling dizzy, with swollen feet. The doctors delivered the news that would change her life forever—she had kidney disease, and her kidneys were in bad shape.

The prognosis was challenging. Nikki needed dialysis three times a week, and her diet had to change drastically. She was told she needed a kidney transplant, and the journey to find a donor was daunting. 

In order to receive a kidney transplant from a deceased organ donor, commonly known as a cadaveric donor, you must first be enrolled on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list. Prior to being eligible for inclusion on the transplant list, a comprehensive series of tests and evaluations is conducted. A specialized transplant team oversees this rigorous assessment procedure for potential kidney recipients.

Various factors can disqualify someone from being eligible for a kidney transplant, such as advanced age, severe heart disease, current or recent cancer treatment, dementia or unmanaged mental health conditions, substance abuse, or any other element that might jeopardize the safe completion of the procedure and the subsequent administration of necessary medications to prevent organ rejection.

It’s important to note that not everyone is eligible for a kidney transplant. 

Nikki’s waiting list status for a kidney transplant became a constant in are life. There are more than 90,000 Americans like Nikki, waiting for a second chance at life, but the numbers who received a transplant were far fewer. According to Nikki, it was a waiting game that required prayers, patience and hope.

What keeps Nikki motivated through this challenging journey is her show. It distracts her from the pain and uncertainty. She also connected with others who have kidney disease through social media, and has built a support system that reminds others that their not alone. Kidney disease affects millions of Americans.

Alongside people like Nikki, Hardie wants to inspire others to consider organ donation and make healthier choices in their lives. Even in the face of adversity, you can transform your life.

Kidney disease didn’t stop Nikki from teaching and motivating others. Her education background allowed her to connect with others on a deeper level, teaching them the importance of organ donation and healthier living.

Nikki says that no matter what life throws at you, you can overcome it. With determination, a positive mindset, and the support of those around you, you can achieve your dreams and make a difference in the world. She is living proof of that.

Standing with Hardie is another the community to be a gift of hope.