How two Black organ transplant recipients beat the odds

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in May 2020, Oliver Kellman’s heart and kidney failed. He required two transplants to survive.


When he went to the hospital on May 14, thinking he would probably need dialysis, he was told he needed a heart transplant within the next two or three weeks — or “you won’t make it in the middle of COVID,” Kellman, an attorney and lobbyist, recalled.

For Kellman, a 6-foot-4-inch-tall Black man, the odds of finding a donor organ match were slim. The number of African Americans in need of organ transplants outpaces the number of Black donors.

Oliver Kellman’s need for a heart and kidney transplant in June 2020 came on suddenly, catching even his doctors off guard. (Courtesy of Oliver Kellman)

“While 28.7 percent of the total candidates currently waiting for transplants are Black/African Americans,

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