By Edward Drake II (kidney recipient)

Just before my twenty-first birthday, I was diagnosed with end-stage Renal Disease  — Kidney Failure.  I was playing college football at the time and during a routine physical the doctors were so shocked by my blood pressure level that I was immediately rushed to the emergency room — and my life changed forever.

In the prime of my life – at the height of my athletic career — I literally went from the football field to the hospital bed.  Within weeks I was adjusting to the routine of dialysis and my name had been placed on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

I had always hoped to pursue a career in sports, but God had a different plan.   At first I kept saying “Why me, God?  Why now?”    But in time I realized, “Why not me?”  Why not help others fight organ failure as I learned to do?  Why not help make life possible for others by making the world aware of the need for organ donation?

The pain, fear, and confusion of my diagnosis, along with my passion to help youth like myself, inspired me to form the YNOTT Foundation (Youth Needing Organ & Tissue Transplants). The YNOTT Foundation is dedicated to raising donor awareness, educating our youth on healthy habits, and assisting youth and their families emotionally and financially.  It is our goal to decrease the total number of deaths, yearly, of individuals in need of organ and tissue transplants nationwide, caused by lack of donors.

As I waited for my kidney transplant, I went to dialysis 3 times a week and was unable to resume many of the physical activities I loved so much. My prayers were answered when I received the call I had been waiting for, and my new gift of life — a new kidney — on October 8, 2008.

I am so grateful for my second chance — for my opportunity to inspire others, as I am persuaded “He who has begun a good work will complete it.” I truly believe that God will never put more on me than I can bear.

I am encouraged, because with my new gift, I know, together, we can all make a difference.