MS VOICES Resources

Black Blood and Organ Donors Needed to Help Regulate Black Health Issues

Black Blood and Organ Donors Needed to Help Regulate Black Health Issues

Blood and organ donations are in constant demand. Blood donations are essential for surgeries, cancer treatments, and transfusions. Organ donations can be life-saving as people on an organ waiting list typically have end-stage organ disease that significantly impacts their quality of life. However, both are hard to get because many people do not like needles, and many organ donations require preauthorized consent from someone who had to lose their life to donate.

As expected, there currently needs to be more blood and organ donors. Only about 2% of people in the United States donate blood resulting in around 13.6 million units of whole blood collected annually. Nearly 5,000 units of platelets and 6,500 units of plasma are needed daily in the United States. Red blood cell use is only good before 42 days, and platelets within five days. A constant supply is necessary to meet the demand. Blood varieties add an extra layer of difficulty. Maintaining diversity in the blood supply is essential to ensure every person receives the needed matching blood type, including rare types.

Donating blood requires the desire and ability to give, but organ donation is trickier. Every day there are around 107,000 people on the national organ waiting list; out of those 107,000, 17 people die daily waiting for a transplant. To make matters worse, transplant patients are increasing.

Even though the blood and organ donor shortage affects everybody, Black people feel the need the most. The sickle-cell disease primarily affects Black people, and many of those affected by the disease rely on frequent blood transfusions to manage its harmful impacts. Sickle cell affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S., most of whom are Black.

As with any blood work, people who need transfusions must have a compatible blood type with the donor. More Black people need to donate because one in three Black blood donors is a match for people with sickle cell disease. Therefore, the more Black people donate blood; the easier it will be for other Black people who need blood to access it without the stress of finding someone compatible.
Many Black people are hesitant about donating despite a glaring need. In 2016, Black people made up 30% of the organ donation waiting list and 33% of the kidney list, even though Black people only make up 13% of the U.S. population. These hesitancies to become a donor often result from a feeling that their organs may be unusable due to specific, prevalent ailments in the Black community and a general distrust of doctors, especially with their lives potentially being on the line.

Even though specific ailments may be present, a lot of the time, the organs are still acceptable for transplant. Education about organ donation would be beneficial to anyone who is considering becoming a donor. Other uncertainties have legitimate standing when looking at the history of Black people and healthcare. However, for those who feel uncomfortable becoming a donor at the end of their life, there is an option to be a living donor, which allows the donor to live a healthy life. Living donors can donate organs such as kidneys, segments of the liver, portions of the pancreas, and parts of the intestine. If a person chooses to be an organ donor, their donation can save up to eight lives.


Tressimee Thompson

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Tressimee's Story

Tressimee Thompson was a teacher before the pandemic, but COVID made her and her husband reevaluate their family situation. She decided to showcase her talents at home as a proud stay-at-home mom to her four children to be more efficient. She’s still teaching, painting, reading, and doing arts and crafts, just with a smaller class.

Each of her children, three boys, and one girl, are uniquely different, and so have her experiences giving birth to them. Tressimee’s labor experience with her second son sticks out the most. Unfortunately, her gynecologist wasn’t available when she went into labor. So she just went to a hospital knowing she would be with an unfamiliar medical staff, but feeling she would get her needs met.

“Different hospitals treat people in different ways,” said Tressimee, a biology major and Jackson resident. “With my first son, I felt like I was heard when giving birth to him. It was an easy labor. My doctor listened to me. This time I didn’t know I could go to a different hospital. I did not know that I could get a different doctor. So, I just went to that hospital and did what they told me.”

They didn’t tell her much. The medical staff initially blew off her concerns of pressing labor and excruciating pain and left her in a room for what seemed forever to Tressimee. When the doctor finally checked her, Tressimee was four centimeters dilated and in nauseating pain.

“The pain was terrible,” said Tressimee, a Medicaid recipient. “They told me to lay down in the bed, and I couldn’t get up at all. But I would keep sneaking to the bathroom to squat just to get some relief. I’ve since learned it’s not good medically to lie down to have a baby. It’s better to be in a natural position.”

They gave Tressimee an epidural to cope with the pain. It lasted for a while, but the pain came back. They gave her another one, but it only numbed her legs. She was in a lot of pain, but she still wanted to document the moment by having her husband record the birth as they had previously done, but the hospital told the family they couldn’t.

“I was in labor for 17 hours,” Tressimee said. “I felt like I wasn’t heard at all during the process. They just really brushed me off. No sense of urgency. I never felt my health was a priority in the situation.”

Prayerfully, she was released from the hospital with her baby two days later, but some of the traumas of not being heard and some of the hardships of motherhood lingered. Depression crept in and dangerously turned into suicidal thoughts. The prolonged feeling of sadness and helplessness led Tressimee to her next agonizing medical experience.

She spoke with her OBGYN about therapy and counseling for the anxiety and the emotional and mental problems she was experiencing. He was supportive and referred her to a nurse practitioner. The nurse practitioner agreed with Tressimee about her depression but only wanted to entertain medications.

“I didn’t want to take it, but I did,” Tressimee said. “The first time I took it, I started shaking uncontrollably. I looked up the side effects, and tremors were a side effect. The nurse practitioner told me to come back if the medicine didn’t work, and she would prescribe me something else, not therapy.”

Tressimee never visited the nurse practitioner again. She dealt with her issues the best she could on her own. It was six years before she made it to therapy.

“I feel like if she would have recommended the therapy, then my anxiety wouldn’t be as bad as it is now,” Tressimee said. “I didn’t want medication. I wanted therapy. I wanted to talk through my issues and learn how to deal with them. I didn’t want to suppress my feelings. I wanted to move through them. I wanted help getting through those thoughts.”

Tressimee does not feel like most Medicaid providers are as professional as they should be. Many do what they want instead of listening to their patients. Medicaid should be held to a higher standard to ensure quality healthcare. They should work harder to tell people how to get well instead of just giving them medication.

“Not getting that therapy that I needed back in 2017 really affected me,” she said. “It affected the way I interacted with my kids. I didn’t want to play with them. I didn’t want to talk to them. I just wanted to lay in bed some days, not wanting to do anything. I couldn’t deal with life sometimes. I feel like the lawmakers should listen to us and know what we need. Put more laws into effect with insurance. Just listen to us.”


Phyllis Lewis

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Phyllis's Story

The beginning of 2019 began like most years for Terry MS resident Phyllis Lewis. She and her husband Derrick were enjoying their empty nest. Her two adult children had been out of the home living their own productive lives for a while now. She and Derrick worked and spent their free time traveling here and there, exploring, fishing, and dropping a coin or two at a casino in Shreveport, LA, which they like to frequent.

Phyllis, a medical biller, never had any health issues and rarely got sick. In 2019, she began feeling ill. Thinking it was the common cold or flu, Phyllis went to the clinic, and they told her nothing was wrong.

Soon after taking the medications, Phyllis began to get weak, so much so that she couldn’t walk or move around well. After a couple of days, she couldn’t move at all. She was stuck in bed, not even mobile enough to use her phone.

Her sister knew she wasn’t feeling well and grew concerned when she didn’t hear from her that day. She stopped by to check on her and found Phyllis lying still in the bed with a 101º fever. Her husband had to come home, carry her to the car, and take her to a hospital.

Phyllis stayed in the hospital for a week. Doctors told her she had prednisone-induced diabetes. Prednisone was one of the medications prescribed to Phyllis when she initially wasn’t feeling well, and they continued to give it to her when she came to the hospital to “taper her off.” However, the drug had raised her insulin levels and made it hard for her to function. It led to more problems down the road for Phyllis.

Phyllis didn’t feel listened to her. Her doctor told her she would transfer her to another hospital for a specialist. Instead, the doctor discharged her after a week without any improvement.

After being discharged and unable to function, she decided to go to the hospital just two days later. However, doctors still had difficulty telling her what was wrong. She saw more than 20 doctors while at that hospital. On her seventh day in, one of the doctors diagnosed her with Adult Onset Still Disease, a very rare condition. Even with this diagnosis, Phyllis felt her concerns were still not being listened to because her symptoms (high blood pressure, kidney issues, fever) did not align with the doctor’s diagnosis.

Her concerns heightened because she felt doctors had given up looking for a solution. The diagnosis felt no better than not knowing because it led to no improvement in her condition. She had two more hospital visits before her issues seemed to subside. After her third hospital visit, she began to feel better. Flare-ups are not as bad as it was initially.

Phyllis is still looking for answers. What happened to her? What does she need to improve her condition? She desperately seeks a solution because she has hip issues. Namely, for the necrosis in her hip formed by medication she was prescribed and administered in the hospital.

Phyllis had hip replacement surgery but is still in pain. Moving around with constant pain from her shoulders to her feet is still challenging. She feels like she’s deteriorating.

Her desire to get rid of the pain has led her to see doctors in other cities like Chicago and St. Louis. Although Phyllis feels she has a better understanding, she still struggles to get the care needed when she returns home to Mississippi. A significant reason is that her Mississippi doctors are not hearing her, and when the out-of-state doctors consult them about her history, they insist that nothing is wrong and that she must be “crazy.”

Perpetuating the idea that a woman with a beautiful life and family would suddenly pretend to be sick and in pain is the only crazy thing about this message. Healthcare professionals have continuously dismissed Phyllis. Yet it happens every day. Black women are overlooked, called crazy, and sent home without answers.


Monique Harvin

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Monique's Story

Monique Harvin loves meeting new people. Engaging with people and learning intricate details about their life is intriguing. Caring for others makes her smile. It’s no surprise that Monique has five children, four girls and a boy.

Monique seemed to be handling motherhood well for a while. The children were born relatively close together, and she recovered quickly, which was a blessing because she only had 30 days of Medicaid coverage after each birth. She and her children always came home healthy – until she gave birth to her fourth child, her only son, in July 2014.

“His lungs collapsed at birth,” Monique said. “He stayed in the hospital a week or two after. The adjustment to care for my son after that was rough. My husband and I decided that was enough.”

Shortly after the birth of her son, Monique had a tubal ligation, tying her fallopian tubes to prevent more pregnancies. But in April of the following year, a mere nine months later, Monique got the shock of her life. She found out she was pregnant again.

“I just completely blacked out,” she said. “When I came to myself, I was lying on the floor, and I asked a friend to watch my kids, and I went to the emergency room.”

Monique visited an emergency room of the same hospital that performed her tubal ligation procedure. They looked at her chart and mentioned there shouldn’t be a chance that she was pregnant, but they took the extra precaution to check anyway.

“I turned to look at the sonogram, and it looked like the little girl was waving at me. The doctor said, well, you know it’s a 99% (prevention rate). I guess you’re that 1 %.”

Monique tried to see the positive side of things as a woman of faith. She rationalized the thought that her daughter had to have a great purpose to be here. Monique thought if she had managed to get pregnant through a tubal ligation, her daughter must have had a profound reason to be in this world. Even though she had come to terms with having another child, she still wanted to know how it happened and if it could happen again.

After having her fifth child, Monique spoke to her doctor about figuring out how she had gotten pregnant again and getting another tubal ligation if she needed it. Her doctor told her that Medicaid would not pay for another tubal ligation. So, she mentioned using condoms. The doctor did say contraceptive pills, but she knew Monique wouldn’t want to use that option because her body did not do well with birth control pills. It often gave Monique migraine headaches and high blood pressure to name a few.

Her only recourse was to do everything she could to intentionally not get pregnant until she could get health insurance through the Marketplace. It was a sacrifice for her to pay for, and it was canceled now and again when money was tight, but while she was in good standing, she made sure to have a test done to see how she could get pregnant with her fifth child.

“I found out that my left (fallopian) tube was still tied, but my right tube was wide open,” Monique said. “So, during that time, I still could have gotten pregnant (again after my fifth child). But I was still glad that it wasn’t any more complicated. It’s other mothers that get pregnant in their tubes. Of course, the baby will be stillborn, which also affects the mother’s health. Although it was a great inconvenience for me to get pregnant after a tubal, I was grateful that it wasn’t an atopic pregnancy.”

Monique and her husband sometimes joke about how their fifth child was determined to make it no matter what, but the issues that followed are nothing to laugh about. After the complicated arrival of her son, Monique started to experience heavy postpartum depression. It became difficult for her to care for her children, but getting out of bed became unbearable.

Monique admits that her doctor always asks how she is doing and is genuine in asking if there is anything she (Monique) could do to help, but she was always ashamed to admit it. Monique is finally getting some therapy she needs but still hasn’t had another procedure to close her right fallopian tube to prevent a sixth pregnancy.

“My little girl is seven years old now, and I’m still looking for an OB that will accept my insurance,” she said. “Some of the challenges that I’ve faced, having the children back-to-back, did cause me some deep depression. It’s something that I didn’t feel comfortable talking about at first. I had always kind of frowned upon medication, but it got to the point where I knew I needed something. Like I couldn’t go on.”

Monique feels she is a long way from her suicidal thoughts, but she still struggles with the day-to-day life of being a mom. Before having her children, she didn’t imagine having these issues, but as she began to experience abnormal troubles, it made her see things differently. Her only ask is that lawmakers do the same. They should look beyond their issues and relate to other people’s problems even if they aren’t unfamiliar.

“(Lawmakers need to) fill in the gap between the systems that are formed to provide women of color and women period of the medical help that they need mentally, physically, which the mental is just as important. Because we have women who are suicidal after postpartum is so bad till women are hurting themselves and they’ve hurt their children. Consider that. Consider us.”


Lauren Lewis

Lauren's Story

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Lauren Lewis

Lauren began her freshman year of college in 2018. Unfortunately, it was the same year she had a terrible car accident. Her time in the hospital contributed to her academic suspension later in the year. It was a difficult and depressing school term.

While on suspension, Lauren started receiving enormous hospital bills. These payment requests would scare a 30-year-old professional. So, you can imagine how traumatizing and intimidating it was for 19-year-old Lauren.

With her academic career already in jeopardy, almost before it even started, she was on the fence about paying to go back to school and having to pay for hospital bills simultaneously or solely working to pay the bills off. She decided to do the latter. Even working full-time, it took three years to pay it off.

Lauren’s medical care took care of her physical injuries from the car accident, but the aftermath had a lasting mental impact. After paying off the debt, she was unsure what to do next. Being out of school for so long made her question if she could start all over again.

Lauren fell into a depressed state that she struggled with immensely. She was hesitant to get help for her sadness and confusion. Once she built the strength to talk to a professional, she felt her doctors did not take her seriously. It made it harder for her to express herself. The uncaring attitude of her doctors at a fragile time made her feel like she was pathetic. She started to internalize more and keep a lot of things to herself.

The sadness jarred Lauren’s memory of the stories she’d heard from her mother and grandmother. They had also sought care but did not receive it until the last minute. Unfortunately, having to experience such a poor bedside manner helped her relate to and understand the generational mistreatment she’d been hearing about for years. They choose to only seek medical help in emergencies because of it.


Islea Gonzalez

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Islea's Story

Isela has had a couple of accidents that have made things more complicated than they should be. She tried pushing through without help because she didn’t have health insurance. But as the pain and hardships worsened, she started to look for alternative treatments because of the steep costs of hospital bills.

One of Isela’s accidents required her to get medical staples that had to be removed sometime afterward. When she received the bill, the thought of getting more care throughout her healing process went out the window. Isla knew she wouldn’t be able to pay that bill, and because of it, the doctor would refuse to continue her visits without health insurance.

According to Mississippi Today, since 2014, states have had the option to expand Medicaid eligibility to adults, such as Isela, with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($18,754 annually for an individual), with the federal government picking up no less than 90 percent of the cost. States have seen significant budget savings from Medicaid expansion because the federal contribution covers individuals and services previously covered with a lower matching rate or unmatched state funds.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), enacted in early 2021, allows states newly expanding Medicaid to access enhanced federal matching funds for most of their non-expansion Medicaid populations. With the 90 percent matching rate for expansion adults established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ARPA strengthens the fiscal case for expansion. It’s a no-brainer for Isela, who sees healthcare as a fundamental human right that no one should be without.

Despite her voice not being heard by doctors, she hopes her story will be heard by others as a testament to the high costs of medical care, making it nearly impossible for those who don’t have health insurance to get the care they need. Isela urges lawmakers to consider extending benefits to those who need them most – needy families and single-parent families. Relieving the pain and suffering of Mississippians who cannot afford to get the care they need is the humane thing to do.


Ida Patterson

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Ida's Story

In 2021, employers’ healthcare plans covered 49% of Americans. Employer-sponsored coverage gives Americans access to a vast number of healthcare providers within that network and typically provides a high quality of care. However, when an enrolled employee is terminated or laid off, the employee also loses their healthcare benefits.

Jackson, Mississippi, resident Ida Patterson noticed a lump in her breast two years ago. She admittedly wrote it off as nothing, but her father had a stroke a month later. It provoked her to see a doctor. His sudden change in health made Ida cautious about her health. She wanted to take control and know what was happening to her.

Ida first decided to see her primary care physician about the lump in her breast. Her primary care physician described the lump as scary and immediately referred her out to get a mammogram and then a biopsy. It only took a couple of weeks to go through all the tests. Doctors diagnosed Ida with Stage 3 Metastatic Breast Cancer.

Ida continued going to the oncologist provided by her healthcare plan and did everything necessary to try to improve her condition. Through it all, she continued to work. She worked from home when allowed, often sick from her chemo treatments.

Unfortunately, Ida’s employer released her from her duties last January, but the letter stated it was not because of her performance. As she continued her fight with cancer, Ida had to decide what to do next regarding health insurance. She desperately needed to continue her treatments. Going without it would be a death sentence.

Ida’s doctors and specialists did not accept Marketplace insurance, and she was also concerned that trying to replace them through Marketplace doctors would result in a lower quality of care for her. She wanted to avoid that at all costs. Ida decided to have her employer-sponsored health plan continued through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

COBRA offers former employees and their families the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods under certain circumstances. Reasons for eligible coverage can include voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduced hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. The range was detrimental if she would make it through the lumpectomy. However, it came at a steep cost of $543 a month out of pocket.

Ida feels her cancer diagnosis and the subsequent cost to the employer-sponsored health plan was why her job let her go. It’s wrong for companies to let employees go because of health situations beyond their control. They should be held accountable for disrupting people’s coverage, especially when it is not a preexisting condition or can be the difference between life or death.


Astria Goolsby

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Astria's Story

Astria Goolsby was looking forward to an amazing day of marital bliss until she started having abdominal pain on the way to a wedding. Her pain was so severe she had to go to an MEA Clinic, where she found out she was experiencing pain from an ectopic pregnancy. Astria, the owner of Verve Health Station in Jackson, MS, was suddenly hit with a whirlwind of information as doctors explained that one of her eggs had lodged in her fallopian tubes, causing it to rupture.

Her life changed so drastically fast. Being a small business owner and personal trainer, Astria felt comfortable reserving her right not to spend money on health insurance because she thought she had control of her health. Her confidence diminished once she surprisingly found out she was eight weeks into a pregnancy she could never carry to term and had no insurance to cover the termination procedure. The mental stress was compounded by needing surgery—immediately.

The urgency made her worry about how she would pay for all of this. With so much information thrown at her, she saw all the expenses adding up. A significant help to Astria was a Medicaid representative coming in and explaining to her what rights she had as a pregnant woman and what she had access to as a single mother through Medicaid. Without knowing much about Medicaid and the available programs, the representative walked Astria through the process. The rep explained how Medicaid could help with her current situation in a way that relieved Astria from feeling helpless.

Medicaid took care of everything financially and alleviated a significant burden off her shoulders. It allowed her to focus on what was most important – her health. Not only did Medicaid cover her procedure it also covered up to six months of doctor visits afterward, which encouraged Astria to ensure that she made follow-up visits.

Astria’s story is one of many that shows the importance of Medicaid to women’s health. Medicaid allowed her to receive the necessary surgery and subsequent care while reducing the financial stressors placed on her. It allowed her to prioritize her health. The service Medicaid provides to women is invaluable, and thankfully it has been expanded to cover women and their children for up to a year after birth.


Sandra and Lavonda Smith

Sandra's Story

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Sandra and Lavonda Smith

Having to feed, clean, nurture, and ensure that your kids’ needs are met can be challenging. However, being the mother of a special needs child alone is a mountainous responsibility only some people can do well. Thankfully, for Sandra Smith, she flourishes in being a mother.

Sandra, a resident of Central Mississippi, has three children. The oldest is 13 and very active in sports. The youngest recently started kindergarten. Her middle child Lavonda is special needs and requires twenty-four-hour care.

Lavonda was born prematurely, causing several complex issues. At birth, doctors noticed her enlarged ventricles. Lavonda was diagnosed with a rare metabolic disorder months later. So rare doctors said she had less than a 1% chance of getting it. Her medical professionals did not expect her to live longer than a year because of her complications at birth. Lavonda defied all odds and is nine years old.

Although she exceeded doctors’ expectations and continues to do so, she must be cared for around the clock. Lavonda is on a BiPap ventilator 24/7 to help her breathe and tracheal and gastronomy tubes. Medicaid covered and provided private-duty nursing for Lavonda’s care until 2019. Specifically, licensed practical nurses (LPN) would sit with Lavonda and provide the care she needed around the clock. Over the years, Lavonda and Sandra grew comfortable with these nurses as they had been in their homes providing the necessary care that Lavonda needed.

However, in December 2019, Medicaid changed its guidelines stating that any ventilator patient must be cared for by registered nurses (RN). Changing the guidelines was a massive disruption to Lavonda’s care because Medicaid no longer covered the LPNs the family was accustomed to working with for years. The change forced Lavonda to go a month without care.

It’s no secret that Mississippi has a shortage of RNs, and Lavonda feels the impact directly. The care company was scrambling to find RNs who could provide private-duty care in the area. They found two full-time RNs who could provide care to Lavonda Monday through Friday, but the high turnover for RNs left Lavonda with no coverage during nights and the weekends for more than six months.

Sandra switched Lavonda’s care provider in July 2020, hoping they would have a more consistent staff. We’ll call the company, Blue United. Unfortunately, they faced the same difficulty scheduling RNs, but they did staff the Smith’s with LPNs to ensure Lavonda would be with care around the clock. They continued using Blue United for two years with minimal complaints.

Due to new guidelines, when Medicaid found out Blue United was sending LPNs to care for Lavonda, they stopped funding the company, eventually forcing it to shut down completely. Thankfully for the Smiths, though, the owner of Blue United was familiar with Lavonda and her situation, so he paid out-of-pocket to ensure she never went without care when Medicaid stopped funding them. It was a divine gesture, but Sandra still had to find detrimental care for her daughter.

Sandra eventually moved on to another company. We’ll call the company Cross Healthcare Services, but they also needed help finding full-time RNs. The RNs from Cross Healthcare Services mainly traveled from Brookhaven and other locations even further away. Due to the pay and distance, the nurses could not commit to caring for Lavonda full-time, which is mandatory to keep her nose, mouth, and trach clear; suction and aspirate her; and ensure that nothing blocks her airway.

Not finding full-time RNs put Sandra in a tough position. She had a full-time job working Monday-Friday as well as two other kids. She relied on nurses to provide her daughter’s care while she was away. Sandra made the hard decision to take unpaid leave from work. It put severe emotional, physical, and mental stress on her.

While caring for Lavonda, Sandra continued looking for care companies, but each had the same problem. Sandra had to be both nurse and mother for more than seven months. Through it all, Sandra was determined to bring about change. She continually called doctors, disability assistance programs, local, state, and federal governments, and Medicaid advocating for her situation, trying to bring change to the process and care for her daughter.

Prayerfully in September 2022, Medicaid and the Board of Nursing came together on the terms of the scope of practice for LPNs and RNs. After reviewing the case, they determined to approve the utilization of LPNs for private duty situations like Lavonda’s when RNs are not available. The change allowed Sandra to return to work full-time, but the overall challenge of finding and keeping qualified nurses to provide care remains.


Brenda Yeller

Brenda's Story

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Brenda Yeller

You and your doctor should be partners in your journey to the healthiest life for you. The partnership should include trusting that your doctor’s primary concern is maintaining or improving your health while you do everything you can to get the best results. Of course, that is hard to accomplish if your doctor is not listening to your concerns.

Many women across the state, especially women of color, do not feel their doctor has their best interests at heart. They have no comfort in the information they are receiving. Our anonymous interviewee is a survivor of medical neglect. We’ll refer to her as Brenda Yeller.

Shortly after getting over COVID, Brenda, a resident of the Mississippi Delta, was bombarded with constant fatigue. Everyday tasks like walking up the stairs became daunting. She decided to see her primary care doctor thinking there would be a quick and logical explanation and cure. However, she was met with a very unbothered demeanor and no answers. The doctor ordered blood work and quickly left the room, moving on with the rest of his day as if her feelings meant nothing.

She received a call from a nurse at her doctor’s office a few days later. The nurse explained that the doctor wanted Brenda to stop taking Lipitor because her glomerular filtration rate (GFR) went from 60 to 31, which shows a significant decline in kidney activity. Brenda knew African Americans represented one-third of the patients with kidney failure. It became a piercing worry as soon as she heard it, especially since she was not told why there was a sudden decline in her GFR. She had been taking Lipitor for quite some time. Why the sudden change in GFR activity?

It was also shocking to be told to stop taking Lipitor because it was prescribed for high cholesterol. She wondered how she would manage those high levels since she was not offered any substitutions for the prescription. Brenda had not received any real answers to her medical issues, which left her feeling she had no one to ask.

There were no follow-up calls to check on Brenda’s recovery or to make a follow-up appointment. When Brenda tried to call and schedule an appointment herself, her calls were never answered or returned. It was time to find a new primary care doctor. She wanted answers, but being brushed off deterred her from seeking additional medical help.

Although she eventually began to feel better after stopping the Lipitor, she still wasn’t back to her usual self. She had serious concerns about how her cholesterol levels would be affected, the plan to make her feel better, and what had caused her condition in the first place. She tried to make sense of everything on her own.

It took some time, but Brenda realized that managing her situation alone was not the best action. After all, her doctor was the problem, not her, and she should not have to risk her health. As of the date of this interview, Brenda has an appointment scheduled with a new doctor, who happens to be a Black woman. It’s unfortunate, but Brenda felt it was her only way to genuinely have a doctor see and acknowledge her as a patient worthy of explanation and care – a partner in health.