Andi O’Malley, director of communications at Donate Life Ohio, nominated winner Donerik Black, of Englewood, Ohio. “I met Donerik 20 years ago and could never imagine back then that this is where his life journey would take him. Donerik’s connection to donation began in 2006 when he donated a kidney to his father.
Fast forward a few years later- through a successful transplant and recovery for this father- Donerik’s health, specifically his heart began to fail. In 2015, He was listed and received a heart, that he desperately needed, at the Cleveland Clinic.” Prior to Donerik’s deteriorating health, he was a competitive BMX rider. He has returned to the sport he loves, competing in 40 local races and three national events. In addition to being active with Donate Life Ohio, speaking at various events, and raising thousands of dollars for research, Donerik is also active with the American Heart Association and was recognized as a Heart Hero in 2013.
Donerik’s Full Story by Andi Johnson O’Malley
I have known Donerik for almost 20 years and could never have imagined back then that this is where his life journey would take him or that I would be working for an organ procurement organization. Donerik’s connection to donation actually began in 2006 when he donated a kidney to his father. His father is doing very well now and continues to run Dayton,Ohio’s only African American newspaper.
However, a few years following Donerik’s donation, his health, specifically his heart began to fail. After several hospitalizations and a couple of near-death experiences, the last which resulted in him being worked on for 45 minutes, Donerik was listed for a heart at the Cleveland Clinic. His new chapter began in February 2015 when his nurses and doctor told him they found the heart he so desperately needed. He spent 49 days in ICU dreaming of that moment, but there was no way to prepare for such overwhelming and life-saving news.
Donerik’s heart transplant surgery was one day before his 45th birthday. He describes it as the best gift he ever received or will ever receive. Donerik thinks of his donor daily and says that he thinks of him most when doing something he thought he would never be able to do again. If it wasn’t for that man’s selfless decision to be a donor, he wouldn’t be here today. It has given him a renewed sense of purpose and an incredible outlook on what life has to offer.
Before Donerik got sick, he was a competitive BMX rider. As his health worsened he had to stop. However, since his transplant Donerik is competing again throughout the country and doing great. Overall he raced in 40 local races and three national events and out of those three national events he has three wins. He even was even able to show his skills and be a part of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Transplant Games of America in Cleveland, Ohio! He proudly displays the Donate Life symbol on his BMX uniform. He is active, competitive and doing what he loves to do.
In addition to being active with Donate Life Ohio and speaking at various events throughout the state, Donerik is also active with the American Heart Association and was recognized as a Heart Hero in 2013. He and his wife Angie have raised thousands of dollars for heart research and have been the face for heart health. I think Donerik’s biggest accomplishment is his daughter, Taylor, and being able to see her grow into the beautiful, talented and smart young woman she was designed to be. He is so incredibly proud of her and extremely blessed to be here to see her continue to flourish.