On Sept. 15, 2003, 10 years after being diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia and having a defibrillator implanted to keep his heart in rhythm, Ivan Harrell received a new heart.
Harrell, the brother of deceased Duke basketball standout John Harrell, had been in failing health since 2010 after doctors discovered the main artery to his heart was only working at 50 percent function.
His church, Union Baptist in Durham, decided to host a Transplant Awareness Day to raise funds for Harrell’s medical expenses if and when that day arrived. Days before the third annual fundraiser, Harrell got “the call.”
Harrell, a Hillside High alumnus and certified tennis professional, is fortunate. He got his transplant. But many others are waiting.
Never miss a local story.
Blacks make up the largest group of minorities in need of an organ transplant, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But the number of organ transplants performed on African-Americans in 2009 – the latest year for statistics – was less than one fifth, or 20 percent of the number currently waiting for a transplant.
Harrell’s transplant cost approximately $800,000.
But that’s just the beginning. He will need follow-up care for the rest of his life that will run approximately $21,000 a year. Not to mention anti-rejection medications that can range from $5,500 to $7,000 per month.
To that end, the Heart for Harrell Transplant Fund Committee is hosting a one-day fundraising trip Aug. 23 to Topiary Gardens of Bishopville, S.C., and the Jubilee African American Festival in Columbia, S.C.
“We are really excited about our trip. Pearl Fryar and his garden are internationally recognized and has been the subject of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, and television shows,” said Margo Garrett, one of the bus tour organizers.
“Families and friends across the Midlands of South Carolina have also been convening at the Jubilee African American Festival for decades to celebrate African-American heritage in a fun, festive environment. From storytellers and dancers to Gullah quilting to broom-making, the Jubilee African American Festival promises to offer an array of activities and cultural treats.”
The cost is $75 per person. A $30 deposit is due by July 23. All proceeds benefit Harrell’s transplant fund.
The bus will depart from White Rock Baptist Church in Durham at 5 a.m. and return at 5 p.m. Contact Margo Garrett at (919) 489-4554 or (919) 608-0985 for more information.
Southern High quarterback Kendall Hinton has verbally committed to Wake Forest. Hinton completed 65 percent of his passes for just under 4,000 yards and 39 touchdowns against just five interceptions. He also rushed for 1,183 yards and 13 touchdowns to lead the Spartans to the state 3-A championship. Duke, N.C. State and East Carolina also offered scholarships.
Former Southern sprinter Desmond Lawrence was trying to become N.C. A&T’s first NCAA national champion in the 100-meter dash. Lawrence finished seventh Friday in the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. He is, however, the first Aggie to earn first-time All-America status in the event.