Concert a sound way to spread organ donor awareness

Kyla Smith
The Detroit News

When Johnathon Jordan applied for his driver’s license, he didn’t know that one check mark on the application would make such a difference.

The summer after his 19th birthday, while riding in a vehicle with four of his friends, he was shot. Jordan was the only person who died. As a result of his decision to become an organ donor, he was able to give eight people a second chance at living.

“When my grandson came home and said he wanted to be an organ donor, I was proud of him,” says Toni Robinson, Jordan’s grandmother. “He made the choice on his own. Even in his death, I know that he still lives.”

In celebration of National Donor Sabbath, the Gift of Life Michigan Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program is sponsoring the sixth annual Sounds of Saving Lives Concert to honor recipients and donor families.

National Donor Sabbath is observed annually Friday through Saturday two weeks before Thanksgiving. The purpose is to give spiritual leaders and communities an opportunity to come together to discuss the decision of organ donation.

Remonia Chapman, program director of MOTTEP, insists minorities need to have more conversations about organ donation.

“This is an important issue that people are not talking about,” Chapman says. “We want to spread the message so people can be more aware. What better way than to have a concert. Music is the universal language.”

The program is hosted by Randi Myles from Praise 102.7 and Darryl H. Ford from WLPC-TV (Channel 40) in Detroit, with performances by the Detroit Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Testimony and Split N Image.

In Michigan, more than 53 percent of people are on the registered donor list. Nationally, 58 percent of minorities make up the waiting list, according to

“One of the things we hope to accomplish with the concert is to debunk the myths that are associated with organ donation and minorities,” Chapman says. “Many lives are saved when communities come together. We may have a different exterior, but we have the same interior.”

Approximately 22 people die every day who are in need of an organ transplant, Chapman says.

“The majority of people waiting for an organ live in southeast Michigan. There is a high need and we are hoping the message resonates with the community,” says Chapman, who also is president of the Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation. “Giving an organ is an act of charity and it’s something everyone can do.”

While Robinson hasn’t met the people who received her grandson’s organs, she says she hopes to connect with them in the future.

“My daughter was sent a list of the people that received Johnathon’s organs, and we want to connect with them,” Robinson says. “There is no greater gift than the gift of life.”

Sounds of Saving Lives Concert

■4:30 p.m. Sunday

■Triumph Church, East Campus, 2760 E. Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI 48211