Area influencers honored by MORA at Black History event 

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Pastor Jennifer Baird, MORA’s Belinda Lane, and Maggie Wade

JANS – Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency (MORA) recently hosted a black-tie gala, “Influencing the Future of Donation – A Black History Month Celebration,” on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, at Two Mississippi Museums. 

The program included testimonials from African American organ recipients including Angel Meeks and Timothy Lewis, both heart recipients; Dr. Latoya Colenberg-Eakins, a kidney recipient; Marcus Rounsaville, a former Jackson firefighter and now a liver and kidney recipient; as well as Germaine Flood, a living kidney donor. 

University of Mississippi Medical Center transplant surgeon Dr. Felicitas Koller spoke on how important registering as a donor is and how deeply meaningful donation can be after the unexpected loss of a loved one. Bonita Mosley of the Mississippi NAACP and Dr. Selika Sweet also spoke. Pastor Jennifer Baird of Jackson Revival Church was on hand to say an opening prayer and the Lanier High School Jubilee Singers performed several songs throughout the evening.

MORA honored twelve area influencers who participated in a recent campaign called “Yes You Should,” aimed at having more Mississippians add their names to the organ donor registry. These influencers were:

• Michelle “Chelle B” Boyd, on-air talent/host

• Maisie Brown, community organizer

• Coke Bumaye, hip-hop artist

• Java Chatman, director of radio at Mississippi Public Broadcasting

• DJ Young Venom, DJ/owner of Offbeat

• Hillman Frazier, state senator

• Brothers Kerry and Kelly Nash, creator and comedian

• Frank Sutton, judge, pastor, and former NFL player

• Dr. Justin Turner, chief medical officer, Mississippi Dept. of Health

• Maggie Wade, news anchor – WLBT

• Nick Wallace, chef/culinary curator

“We had an amazing night with some very moving testimonies about the impact of donation in the lives of those in our community. Our hope is that everyone in attendance will consider donation and share about their experience at the event,” said Belinda Lane, community outreach coordinator for MORA and organizer of the event. “If you know someone who is waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, you should go and add yourself to the donor registry at We can no longer afford to avoid having tough conversations regarding donation. If you’ve been thinking about becoming a registered donor, we say, ‘Yes You Should,’ and we encourage those who have never considered it to give it some serious thought.”

In Mississippi, almost 70% of patients waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, and 90% of those who are waiting for a kidney, are Black/African American. This is due, in part, to higher rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes – diseases that lead to organ failure. Everyone on the transplant waiting list has a better chance of receiving the needed organ(s) when there are many donors from their racial or ethnic background. While a donor and recipient can certainly be from different ethnic groups, compatible blood types and tissue markers, which play a crucial role in matching donors with recipients, are more likely to be found among people of the same ethnicity. 

“The more people from your ethnic group who are willing to donate, the more likely you or your loved one are to find a timely, compatible match with a successful long-term outcome,” added Lane.

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Area influencers honored by MORA at Black History event 

By Jackson Advocate News Service
March 11, 2024