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When Brenda’s brother needed a kidney transplant, she saw an opportunity to do something about it. In 2017, she became her brother’s living-kidney donor through a living-donor kidney chain that saved his life.

“Choosing to donate to my brother was just like the air I breathe. I didn’t even think twice about it,” said Brenda. “The moment he went on dialysis, I immediately went to be evaluated to see if I was a match.”

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Understanding Health Disparities and Kidney Disease

As a retired Pittsburgh police officer, community activist, and living donor, Brenda is helping to raise awareness of living donation among health care providers and the community. Her goal is to make sure people of all ages and races have access to healthier lives and she is committed to increasing awareness about living donation in the Black community.

“There are so many people who are suffering from liver and kidney disease,” said Brenda. “When it impacted my brother, I knew where to turn. But I often think about the people who don’t know where to turn. I wanted to help my brother and now we are helping others.”

Black Americans are three times more likely to need a kidney transplant than other populations, mainly due to health disparities.

However, health disparities are preventable. It’s important to learn and understand what causes health disparities in order to address and prevent them. Factors causing health disparities include, but are not restricted to:

  • Limited access to health care.
  • Environmental threats.
  • Personal and behavioral factors.
  • Educational inequalities.
  • Poverty.

Increasing Access to Living Donor Transplant

As a former living donor, one of Brenda’s goals is to partner with community organizations to increase education about living-donor transplant and the benefits of living donation for patients on the liver and kidney transplant waiting list.

By becoming a living donor, you can help save the life of a family member, loved one, or stranger. Patients on the waiting list are more than just statistics. They are cousins, uncles, daughters, or mothers who can get back to living healthier lives with their family members because of the gift of donation. The benefits of living-donor transplants include:

  • Little or no wait time.
  • Quicker recovery time.
  • Improved long-term outcomes.

Perhaps the biggest benefit living donors receive is knowing that their gift has made a life-changing impact on another person.As a community activist, Brenda highlights the successes and positive impacts that living donation can have on families and their loved ones throughout the Black community.

“My goal is not to convince the Black community that they should become living donors, but to inform them that they can save someone near and dear to them through living donation,” said Brenda.

To register to become a living donor, visit our website.

To learn more about health disparities, visit

About Transplant Services

For more than four decades, UPMC Transplant Services has been a leader in organ transplantation. Our clinicians have performed more than 20,000 organ transplant procedures, making UPMC one of the foremost organ transplant centers in the world. We are home to some of the world’s foremost transplant experts and take on some of the most challenging cases. Through research, we have developed new therapies that provide our patients better outcomes — so organ recipients can enjoy better health with fewer restrictions. Above all, we are committed to providing compassionate, complete care that can change – and save – our patients’ lives. Visit our website to find a provider near you.