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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)--There are thousands of people across Kentuckiana who are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. Typically, minorities face a much longer wait than others. Transplant experts says minorities don't join the registry and they are disproportionately affected by illnesses like hypertension and diabetes.
"I believe it was like March of 2012."
In March of last year 30 year old Dawn Nelson got some disturbing news.
"I was just scared...I remember being scared," says Nelson, transplant recipient. "My doctor told me that in order for me to survive, I may need a transplant."
Nelson was immediately put on the waiting list for a life-saving heart and lung transplant; she was beginning to decline, however, after a few months on the waiting list, there was good news.
Nelson says, "I found out there was a heart and lungs available for me July 6th."
Nelson eventually received a heart and two longs. And she is now on organ donor registry list and wears a lapel pin and uses a bumper sticker to help spread the word.
"I encourage everyone to become an organ donor; all of my family and friends are organ donors now."
Right now, there are plenty of people on the registry across kentuckiana but there is one group that's missing.
"We need more minorities to join the registry," says Amber McGuire, with Kentucky Organ Donor Registry.
McGuire says minorities are disproportionately affected by several illnesses that contribute to a higher number of them being on the transplant waiting list.
McGuire says, "We need more individuals from the multi-cultural community to step up and save lives by joining the joining the organ donor registry."
McGuire also says a common misconception prevents minorities from joining the registry list or becoming a donor when renewing their drivers license.
"Which is that if they are in an automobile accident the doctors and nurses won't try to save their life and it is simply not true," says McGuire.
"I'm feeling great," says Nelson.
Dawn Nelson says she's feeling great because someone or someone's family gave her the gift of life...and she hopes to one day thank them in person.
"I want to see him...his family 'cause I don't know them," says Nelson.
This week is also national minority donor awareness week.
To find out how to join the registry just head to our web site at wdrb.com and click on the button.