Woman’s story raises awareness for growing need of minority organ donors

People of color only make up 32% of the organ donor list

One hundred and ten thousand adults and children are on the National Organ Donor Waitlist.

This number is something the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance, or TOSA, works hard to bring down every year.

“We basically provide organ donation and recovery services for those central south Texans wishing to donate and for those waiting on the waiting list,” Senior Communication Coordination at TOSA, Clarissa Thompson said.

Thompson said for the month of August, they are focusing on the 60% of people of color on the waiting list.

It’s all a part of National Minority Donor Awareness Month.

“Even though you do not have to be of the same ethnicity, the donor and the recipient, we do find that there are studies that show the transplant tend to be more successful when the donors and the recipients share the similar genetics,” Thompson said.

In 2012, Krizia Keiser signed up to be an organ donor while getting her driver’s license.

“That night we talked about it, about her decision during dinner, and she expressed her desire to be a donor if someone was to happen to her,” Krizia’s mother, Martha Keiser said.”

Krizia suffered a brain aneurysm, passing away on June 6th, 2013.

Martha said at that time, her daughter being an organ donor was the last thing on her mind.

“I actually said no,” Martha said. “But then one of the representatives from TOSA took us into a separate room and, very gentle, told us about the whole process and about Krizia’s decision.”

And with 22,000 people on the waiting list who are Hispanic, Krizia’s background was a great addition.

In fact, Krizia donated her kidney and pancreas to a Hispanic man who had complications with his diabetes. It’s someone Martha had the pleasure of meeting.

“It’s just overwhelming seeing how Krizia’s recipients have flourished {after} suffering from all these illnesses.”

People of color, like Krizia, only make up 32% of the donor list.

Thompson chalks that up to the misconceptions that surround becoming an organ donor.

“‘Doctors will not save my life if I’m an organ donor; if I’ve signed up to save lives as an organ donor,’ and that is not the case,” Thompson said. “Donation is only considered after every life-saving effort has occurred.”

Another myth is that it will affect the funeral service. That’s a myth Martha can disprove.

“We had an open casket for Krizia,” Martha said, “She looked as beautiful as she always did. She looked like she was just a beauty sleeping.”

Martha works closely with TOSA to share Krizia’s story and to show that even though she left sooner than expected, she completed her mission.

“And that was to give that gift to life,” Martha said. “It makes us very proud that at such a young age she made that decision and that she was able to achieve that wish.”

There is no age requirement to become an organ donor; however, if you’re under 18, you’ll need parental consent.

To sign up, visit the TOSA website, or the Donate Life Texas website.

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About the Authors:

Alexsis Page has been a News Producer at KSAT since 2019. A former military brat, she was born in Killeen, raised in El Paso, but calls Lawton, Oklahoma, home. She began her journalism career as an editor and later news producer at KSWO in Lawton and also produced at WICS/WRSP in Springfield, Illinois.

Dominic Lawrence is an Emmy award-winning video editor at KSAT. Before coming to KSAT, he graduated from Texas Tech University while working at KCBD in Lubbock as a photojournalist. He is a Star Wars fan and enjoys spending time out with his dog.