Black History Month

karsten

Karsten Weathersby, Kidney Recipient

Super Bowl Sunday was not the only thing of significance on February 1, it also marked the beginning of Black History Month, an observance founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Dr. Woodson was born in 1875 in New Canton Virginia. He put himself through high school and earned his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. After discovering an absence of African-Americans in history books, he made it his mission to rewrite a more accurate historical account. After establishing the, now called, Association for the study of Afro-American Life and History in 1915, he started the Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he inaugurated Negro History Week to serve as an observance of the contributions of black people throughout American history. It was initially recognized the second week of February but grew to an official month long observance in 1976.

Currently, African Americans make up 30 percent of those waiting for a life-saving transplant, with most waiting for a kidney.  Karsten Weathersby knows that wait all too well.   As a young man in his twenties, Karsten was enjoying a carefree life filled with friends, sports and video games when things suddenly began to change. He noticed his body growing weaker with each day until even walking short distances became nearly impossible. Just after his second year of college, Karsten was diagnosed with kidney failure. He remembers tearfully listening to his doctor explain the severity of his condition. Soon after, Karsten started dialysis.

After a few years of dialysis Karsten was placed on the national transplant waiting list. He faced several complications and required frequent doctor’s visits for tests and checkups. His condition consumed his free time and limited his ability to participate in his friends’ lives. This became especially hard when, due to his deteriorating condition, he had to decline the role of best man in his childhood friend’s wedding.  Although Karsten felt confined and confused by his disease, he never lost hope.

One fateful night Karsten received the call. They had found a match. “My heart stopped,” he remembers,   “I knew this day was coming, but when it did, it was a shock.”  Full of nerves and excitement, Karsten rushed to the hospital to receive his long-anticipated, life-changing, kidney transplant.

Today, Karsten passionately lives his life to the fullest. “I try to fill my free time as much as possible, because I know what it’s like not to have that time.” He knows that he is alive today because of another family’s loss and is forever grateful for their lifesaving generosity. Karsten plans to express his gratitude and “help out wherever I can to give back to the people that kept me going all those years.”