WOODBRIDGE TWP., N.J. (PIX11) — Chris Bryant, a native of Queens and current resident of Woodbridge, N.J., was a young man living with type 1 diabetes, which eventually led to kidney failure.
“The damage was already done from what was the first ten years having diabetes under poor management,” said Bryant.
Bryant endured years of dialysis while he waited for a donor.
“Three days a week, about five hours each day which really can take from you doing the normal things that you would do in your life,” said Bryant.
Eventually, one of his wife’s co-workers was found to be a match. Bryant received her kidney and received a pancreas from another donor. Unfortunately, after 11 years, the kidney failed, and he wound up on dialysis again.
“The hospital calls me after three and a half years to let me know, ‘can I be there tomorrow morning for an organ transplant?’ I said, ‘sure, I can be ready. I’ve had my bag packed for three years. I can be ready,'” said Bryant.
All told, Bryant had received organs from living and deceased donors.
“During their darkest days, they were able to give me, not only me, but up to eight people, life,” said Bryant.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, 68 percent of the 4,000 New Jerseyans waiting for an organ are people of color.
“People of Color, unfortunately, are at higher risk for getting specific diseases, such as end-stage kidney disease,” said Alyssa D’Addio of NJ Sharing Network. “When we look at that, 80 percent of our waitlist is actually people waiting for kidneys, so they’re being affected mostly by needing a kidney transplant.”
NJ Sharing Network said last year, as a result, the Garden State saw a record number of organ donations.
“The message that I have for those that are waiting for an organ -liver, kidney, heart, lungs, or any other one- is to be patient. Stay positive and never, ever give up,” said Bryant.
Bryant’s message is to take care of your health so that you hopefully don’t end up in a place where you’d need an organ transplant. And his message to those who’ve donated: “You have done the most selfless act that I could think of, and it will never go unrecognized.”