Giving a miracle: Organ donors, recipients come together

More than a hundred organ donors, recipients, and transplant teams came together Friday for the National Donate Life month.

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Not just recipients, but donors said it changed them forever. ”It’s a rebirth. It really is a rebirth,” said the Rev. Oliver Johnson, an organ recipient

In 2002, Johnson had kidney failure. On dialysis and prepared to die, he received a life-saving transplant. It was a transformation.

“My kidney is from a woman who is white. And it was an experience that I never thought I would have,” he said.

The third of eight generations of Washingtoninans, Johnson spent his entire life in the black community. And he says Rosemary DeButts didn't just save his life, she opened his eyes.

“Our families, they all know each other,” he said. “I have grown to love her family as much as my own. I do understand now that we are all the same under the skin.”

Johnson’s donor Rosemary DeButts said it was a learning experience for her as well. “He has so much to teach me that I would never learn about his life, he about mine if this hadn't happened,” she said.

The community honored all living donors associated with Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Inova Fairfax, Georgetown and Washington Hospital centers. Attendees told ABC7 more people should consider donating.

“I'd love for anybody who's giving it any thought to think about how easy it is and how dramatically you can change somebody's life,” said Debutts.

“It is literally the gift of life. And you grow. And you learn. It reaches down to the base of your soul,” said Johnson. “You understand what miracles are -- they're not cosmic sparkly kinds of things. They are just subtle things that one human being does for another.”

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