As she enjoyed her father’s 71st birthday party with friends and family, Syreeta Talbert received a phone call from the hospital informing her that her son Jalen, 21, had been shot through the back of the head.
After rushing to Trinity Hospital, she found out that her son — who was slated to graduate college in just a few months — was comatose and rendered brain dead from his wounds. In the midst of her grief, she faced a decision no mother wants to face: whether or not to allow her son to die.
That’s when she was approached by Gift of Hope, a Chicagoland non-profit dedicated to facilitating organ and tissue donation services.
“I don’t remember who I talked to [from Gift of Hope], but she was like a little angel who gave me such comfort and peace,” Talbert recounted at Gift of Hope’s National Minority Donor Awareness Week kick-off event.
With the woman’s education and advice, Talbert made the decision to donate her son’s organs when he died the next day. “He’s still alive today in two people who have his kidneys,” she said. “It gives me hope and peace. He’s still here.”
Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Network hosted the event to both celebrate the organization’s new location in the Chatham neighborhood as well as encourage members of the community to become organ donors.
Talbert was one of 14 people who spoke at the event including Rep. Danny K. Davis, Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, Ald. Roderick Sawyer, and Ald. Michelle Harris.
“We need to get the word out there to our communities to let them know how important it is to step up to be a living donor to someone in need right now and making sure they’re registered with the Secretary of State to be an organ donor,” Valencia told the crowd.
The non-profit moved into their new location on 7936 S. Cottage Grove Avenue from their former Bronzeville location in order to better service the needs of Chicago’s South Side community. The 48,000 square-foot location was formerly the site of the Urban Partnership Bank and now gives Gift of Hope the opportunity to provide more services to those who need it.
The organization’s Vice President of Business Development Ross Raspopovich told the crowd about their hopes for the new building saying, “We landed ona community center where we’ll have meeting rooms for various entities in the community, and also a training facility for allied health where we could potentially give better paying jobs for those in Chatham and the surrounding area.”
National Minority Donor Awareness Week takes place the first week of August to honor minorities who have been organ donors and encourage others to become donors as well.
For more information on Gift of Hope as well as directions on how to become an organ donor, visit their website at giftofhope.org.