My health journey began at five-years-old when I had my first grand mal seizure.
Two weeks after both of my kidneys were removed, my doctors suggested my family come to the hospital to say their goodbyes to me. I was vomiting blood clots due to a bleeding vessel in my stomach. I lost eight units of blood that day and almost had my stomach removed. To date, I’ve received more than 70 blood transfusions.
I spent a year in the hospital when I was 18. During that time, my parents lived in the Ronald McDonald House and my husband, Noah, who I had yet to meet, worked across the street from my parent’s home. There was a parking lot next to my parent’s house and Noah unknowingly parked his car next to mine for two years. Noah and I discovered these serendipitous happenings years later when we started dating.
I have more than 60 inches of scars crisscrossing my body and have endured 30 surgeries, two being my transplants - a kidney from a living donor when I was 19 (from a family friend who I’ve known since 8th grade) and a liver from a deceased donor when I was 35. Both needed because of polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic disease that has taken the lives of countless family members.
I’ve shared my story at over 100 events across North America and received the “Bounce Back Give Back” award from the Chris Klug Foundation on top of Aspen Mountain. Truly embodying the meaning of the award, days prior to the event I was hospitalized in my home state of CA for a repeat episode of sepsis. However, I bounced back, made it to Colorado in time for the event and had to get daily IV antibiotic infusions before, during and after the awards trip. Thankfully eight months later I received a lifesaving liver transplant, which has restored my health and afforded me the opportunity to continue to show my gratitude for this extraordinary life by giving back.
Recipient, Heart, 1991
I am an Author & Inspirational Speaker.
Disability and organ donation advocate.
I am a Fraternal Twin
I have a disability (Cerebral Palsy).
I had 2 open heart surgeries following my transplant.
Recipient, Kidney Pancreas, 2010
I died for 7 minutes in 2008.
Coached 14 future NFL players in high school, worked for 3 university athletic departments, The Orange Bowl, and the Dallas Cowboys.
I have one eye but perfect vision as defined by the Helen Keller quote.
Played college football as an insulin dependent diabetic.
Wrote a memoir detailing my true “Forrest Gump-esque life” with contributors Dan Marino, Rob Gronkowski, and Bucky Dent.
Recipient, Kidney, 2016
Youngest African American to become Judge in the State of Wisconsin (31 years old).
I'm a 6'2, 270 lbs black male and I received a kidney from a 5'6, 130 lbs white female, yet despite our differences, both our kidneys were pink, & we were a perfect match.
Despite being immunosuppressed, and spending 12 days in the hospital, 9 of which in ICU, I survived Covid-19.
Every job I've ever had was directly influenced by a movie or tv show. (Silence of the Lambs - I interned with the FBI at National HQ in DC, A Few Good Men - Interned with the Army Judge Advocate General's Office at Fort Carson, LA Law - Actor Blair Underwood was the first black attorney I had ever seen and he inspired me to go to Law School, Law & Order - Actor Richard Brooks (Paul Robinette) inspired my first job after law school as an Assistant District Attorney, Insert any TV Judge show - now the Chief Judge of the Milwaukee Municipal Court.
I went to High School (Marian Catholic) with super producer Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy & others).
Uncle of Donor Amanda Seraphin
Co-author with Liz Seraphin Amanda's mother. Arturo's Dream taking us 10 years to write and published in English and Spanish 3 years ago.
Helped initiate family donor support programs in Hospital de Mujer and Hospital General in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mex. Donated collection of my photographs to both hospitals.
I am on the BOD of The Children's Transplant Fund and Onelegacy Ambassador for 16 years. I was a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Southern Colombia, SA. I am ranked in the top 25 Olympic distance triathlete in the USA.
Spoken extensively to ICU and medical staff at hospitals through out Southern California, Puerta Vallarta and Culiacan Mexico. I recieved Onelegacy's "Story Teller of the Year" award.
My older son Santos lives with his family in Ventura,CA. Adrian my younger son lives with his family in Sao Paola, Brazil.
I am a plus size marathoner and runner.
I am a fabulous chef!
I am a fierce warrior mother of 5 daughters and actively agitating systems of oppression.
In process of writing a book about living through grief and loss with grace and hope.
In 2007 I lost my three daughters in a house fire in Shaker Heights. My 14month old daughter was a donor. She save two lives with four life saving organs.
Donor Mother (2010), UNOS Board Member (2017-2020), Public Speaker and Organ Donation Advocate
I’m a mom of three awesome kids who are my pride and joy (Taylor, Ryan and Peyton).
Co-Authored a best-selling book with my husband, “Taylor’s Gift” that was also translated into Swedish!
OPI nail polish created a ‘Taylor Blue’ color and NIKE created “Outlive Yourself” socks to share the story of our daughter, Taylor, and bring attention to organ donation. I’ve also been on the Ellen Show, the Today Show and in People Magazine because of our organ donation efforts and impact.
My faith is extremely important to me!
I have cousins that are all named after universities...Princeton, Harvard, Duke, Tulane, Cornell, Auburn and Stanford Jr. (Their parents are Loyola and Stanford!)
I was a professional dancer, toured the world with Gloria Gaynor. Still dance. Being a dancer helped me recover and I still dance.
I was perfectly healthy until a rare auto immune disease that went misdiagnosed for three months destroyed my heart. I dropped dead in my home and was listed for a heart as an experiment , Never expected to live.Got a heart in ten days on my real birthday, My daughter was 11 at the time and she saved my life and a promise to God.
Started a non profit Ava’s Heart to assist transplant and donor families. Created Ava’s House to help patients with the three months of mandatory post transplant housing.
Writing my story in a book entitled Shark Heart, which also features the stories of other transplant and donor families.
Featured on ABC news with Philip Palmer in a piece called solutions, and featured on NBC nightly news in their segment about giving back.
I was diagnosed with postpartum cardiomyopathy at the moment I was delivering my son. That was the moment that I started down a long path of heart disease.
I am a heart transplant recipient. I received my second chance at life on January 31, 2018. Within that week, I had 3 open heart surgeries and almost died twice. I had both types of organ rejection and an infection and spent three months in and out of the hospital.
After my recovery I was determined to give back and make a difference. I am an Ambassador for Donor Network West and founded a nonprofit in 2020 called Heartfelt Help Foundation to help other transplant recipients in the Bay Area both source and afford their post transplant housing expenses. The cost of this housing, which is medically required, is, at best, minimally covered by insurance. At a time, when a transplant patient's recovery is at its most critical, the stress of finding adequate affordable housing adds a layer of stress that isn't conducive to their recovery. Heartfelt Help Foundation helps with sourcing a place that feels like home when a patient can't actually be home. A place that is private, safe, and allows recovery to begin in the best possible way. Our foundation then pays for what insurance doesn't. It has been my privilege to walk with other transplant recipients through their initial recovery period.
I am a Peer to Peer Mentor for Transplant Recipients at CPMC and Kaiser.
I have shared my story and vision for equitable access to housing over a dozen times in the last two years through in person presentations and on podcasts.