Giving Me Life: A Visual Journey of African American Organ and Tissue Transplant Recipients

A photography and multimedia exhibit in partnership with Donor Network West will be at the African American Museum and
Library in Oakland from June 9th to August 31st 2018.

This poignant exhibit aims to use the power of photography to tell individual stories of nine inspiring African American Bay Area transplant recipients who have overcome incredible obstacles to get their health and lives back—all thanks to the gift of organ and tissue donation.

16 years ago my mother’s life was saved because someone decided to be a donor. I learned at a young age how precious and fragile life is and was reminded yet again last year after being in a serious car accident. It’s so important to me, now more than ever to recognize amazing people by sharing their inspiring stories.


Anthony Robinson | heart transplant recipient

“Because of the gracious gift from my donor, I am honored, blessed, and excited to enjoy life with a healthy heart. I fell in love and married my sweetheart. I have been by my son’s side for important milestones, including graduating from college and getting married. I enjoy spending precious time with family and friends, traveling the world with my wife, and watching my granddaughter grow up. Life is a grand blessing, and I am living it to the fullest.”and friends, traveling the world with my wife, and watching my granddaughter grow up. Life is a grand blessing, and I am living it to the fullest.”

Taiwan Walker | kidney recipient

“Receiving a kidney from my aunt represents a love and loyalty like no other. I am now able to enjoy life with no restraints. With this gift of life, I can explore the world, and spend time on humanitarian efforts that benefit my community.“


Dr. Maisha Gray Diggs, double cornea recipient

“I honor my life-enhancing gift and my generous donors by living every day to the fullest. With sight restored, I enjoy a rewarding career as a research scientist. In this role, I am able to create products, processes and systems that improve the lives of the world’s children, cats, barbeque lovers and job-hunters.”


Channing Joseph, kidney recipient

“Life after my transplant does feel like a second chance. I live each day with much less stress than I did before my kidney disease. As challenging as it was to face my mortality, it is a tremendous gift to know that I have the strength to survive such a difficult journey. I feel that I can accomplish anything now.”


Gary Walsh, double lung recipient

“While waiting for a transplant, the importance of time weighed heavily on my mind. I often thought about all of the things that I should have done when I was healthier. With God’s grace and the gift of a second chance at life, I maximize every moment. Powered by new lungs, my goal is to do more to help others.”

Mary Vianzon and Sekou Arafiless, parents of Jabari, liver recipient

Jabari is only here today because someone else cared. He loves spending time with his big brother, who is his hero. Whether singing, dancing, or telling everyone how strong he is, Jabari is so full of life. Every time that we look at his smiling face, we are reminded of how blessed we are by this incredible gift.”


Camellia Franklin, ligament recipient

My quality of life has truly been enhanced by the gift of a donated anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Avenues of living are no longer closed to me; I can walk trails and navigate stairs unencumbered. I have resumed being a traveler, who can companion my children and friends on exciting adventures. I enjoy taking dance classes—whether jazz, modern, or African. I can go the distance.”


Damita Barbee, double lung recipient

“There is a song that I like by the rock group, The Police, ‘Every Breath You Take.’  In thinking about my transplantation journey, I have been inspired to change the lyrics to ‘every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, GOD is watching you.’ I know that I have been given a second chance to live because God wants me to be here. I honor my donor by doing my best to help others; I serve as a Donate Life ambassador; I mentor pre-transplant patients at UCSF; and I spread love to family and friends. Most importantly, I lift up my donor and his family in prayer each and every day, in appreciation for the gift that they have bestowed upon me.”