African-American organ donor need profiled in Milwaukee art exhibit

The need for organ and tissue donors in Milwaukee is great, and it's even greater among African-American residents.

A local art exhibit, which opens April 30, hopes to get more people registered as potential donors.

"Sign your driver’s license, become a donor," said Richard Lewis, a two-time kidney transplant recipient.

That is the message of a new, innovative art exhibition -- LifeLine: The Ultimate Bond -- that hopes to spread across the community.

"It is intended to serve as a much-needed catalyst for awareness, dialogue and most importantly increased organ and tissue donor registration within Milwaukee’s African-American community," Tonnie Boston with Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin said.

The educational exhibition at America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee features stories of organ donors, recipients and those awaiting a lifesaving transplant. The goal is to raise awareness of the need for more African-Americans to register as organ donors.

"Here in Wisconsin, over 2,000 people are waiting, and 400 of those are African American," said Colleen McCarthy, Versiti Organ & Tissue vice president.

Those featured in the exhibit hope speaking out about their own experiences will encourage others to do the same.

"Selfishly I hope someone sees this and is compelled to donate a kidney," said Kobena-Marcus Collins, who is waiting on a kidney. "Since I found out about my challenges I’ve been trying to share the story so that people start to monitor their own lives."

The exhibit's virtual grand opening Friday will feature some of the artists, health experts and a virtual tour. It starts at 6 p.m. and will travel to other venues. More information is available at

The exhibit's opening also coincides with Donate Life Month and Minority Health Month.

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