Faith, organ donation go hand in hand

November 17, 2016 in Statewide News

Pastor, church member reflect on faith, their donation connection  

Pictured are (from left) Adrian Murry, Clintoria Johnson and Michael Minor. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Pictured are (from left) Adrian Murry, Clintoria Johnson and Michael Minor. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Mississippi Link Newswire

National Donor Sabbath is a time for faith leaders from many religions, donor families, transplant recipients and donation and transplantation professionals to participate in services and programs to educate the public about the need for the lifesaving and healing gifts passed to others through transplantation, while also encouraging people to register their decision to be organ, eye and tissue donors.

In 2016, National Donor Sabbath was observed Nov. 11-13. Across the country, a new patient is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes and an average of 22 people die each day awaiting a lifesaving transplant that never comes. One organ donor can save eight lives and one tissue donor can save or heal the lives of 50 recipients or more.

This year had a special meaning for kidney recipient Michael Minor, a pastor at West Point Baptist Church in Hattiesburg.

“I share with others how selfless of an act it was that was bestowed onto me,” said the 45- year-old Minor who has been at West Point Baptist Church for 17 years. He first learned he would need a transplant in 2012.

“My faith in God was paramount. It was really all I had. It gave me something to hold on to through the process.”

His miracle would come in the form of a tragedy that hit one of the families in his congregation in September of 2015.

Adrian Murry and her 25-year-old son Kendrick had plans to watch Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi play football in Hattiesburg Sept. 5, 2015. Kendrick never showed. He had suffered a seizure at work and hit his head as he fell. One week later, he was pronounced dead at Forrest General Hospital.

Unbeknownst to his mother, Kendrick was a registered organ donor.

“At the time, I really didn’t know anything about donation and didn’t know that he had signed up for it,” said Murry. “When I did learn about it, I did not want to do it. I thought it was against my religion. I came home and I thought about it. I realized this was his wish. It turned out to be more amazing than I thought.”

The Murry family had been a member of West Point Baptist Church for nearly as long as Pastor Minor had been at the church. At the most painful time of her life, Murry remembered that her pastor was on dialysis and in need of a kidney transplant. “I was stuck on the fact that Adrian was thinking about me,” said Minor. “The fact that she could think of anybody at that time and the fact that she remembered that I was in need was overwhelming.”

Given that this was an unspeakable tragedy for this mom and mother of three, Minor believes that Adrian’s faith played a large part in helping her deal with her son’s death and understand his wishes to be a donor. “It is counter to human nature to think of someone else at that moment. Faith defies logic a lot of times,” explained Minor.

Murry’s faith wavered for a bit after her son’s death. “I stepped away from the church after my son passed, but I started going back to church realizing that you can’t be down,” she said. “This is the time to be rejoicing and thanking God for the years I did have.”

Kendrick donated six organs that saved five lives and Adrian shares the importance of his selfless act to all. “I encourage anyone that I come across to think about others and saving others because that’s what we are here to do.”

She says she often shares that message with family members and one family member – Clintoria Johnson – knows all too well the importance of that message. Johnson is Murry’s cousin, and she was also the recipient of Kendrick’s heart. Murry didn’t learn until seven months after Kendrick’s death and one day before his birthday that Johnson had received his heart.

“It has given me the strength to know that my son still lives on. The scripture says to give and it shall be given on to you. He gave and I believe it is going to be given back tenfold.”