CDTRP Special Interview with Jennen Johnson for the 2024 Black History Month

Every February marks the Black History Month and CDTRP is proud to celebrate this month and shed the light on the African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) communities in the donation and transplantation research fields.

In honor of Black History Month 2024, Communications & Events Manager, Stéphanie, had the privilege of sitting down with Jennen Johnson, a living donor kidney transplant recipient and an active volunteer at the Centre for Living Organ Donation at the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto. Jennen dedicates her free time to working on various projects, including her role as a member of the ACB Organ Health YouTube Channel Advisory Committee. Launched in September 2021 by a team of researchers and patient partners at UHN, this YouTube Channel aims to share experiences and knowledge of transplantation and living donation specifically for African, Caribbean, and Black (ACB) patients, caregivers, clinicians, and the community.

During the interview, Jennen provided insights into her role as a member of the ACB Organ Health YouTube Channel Advisory Committee and also highlighted achievements such as curating educational videos and fostering partnerships to address disparities in organ donation and transplantation outcomes. She also emphasized the need for tailored education, systemic barrier removal, and cultural sensitivity.

Jennen is truly making a significant impact in addressing disparities and inequities in organ donation and transplantation for ACB communities. Through the committee’s efforts, a wealth of educational resources and community engagement initiatives have been developed, empowering individuals to make informed decisions and navigate the transplantation process more effectively. The ACB Organ Health YouTube Channel stands as a vital platform for sharing experiences and knowledge, ultimately striving for equitable healthcare outcomes for all.

About Jennen Johnson

Jennen Johnson’s journey began in 2017 when kidney failure put her on the transplant waitlist. At that time, the wait for a deceased donor kidney was six years. In her current condition, she had four years to live. Time wasn’t on her side and her best chance was to find a living kidney donor.

Jennen’s mom suggested she places an ad for a donor in the newspaper, but none of the major newspapers were interested. Defeated, she reached out to NOW Magazine and they agreed to publish her ad. It was shared on Facebook nearly 2,000 times, and landed her an interview on Global TV. Many generous people applied to be her donor, including the incredible Christi Nolan. Months after she applied and her testing was complete, Jennen received the call that changed her life: Christi was a match!

Since her transplant, Jennen has dedicated her spare time to volunteering with the Centre for Living Organ Donation. She continues to share her story in hopes that it will inspire others; “After all”, she says, “I’ve been blessed with the gift of life and the least I can do is give back”.

Jennen is also the host of the Green Table Talk, a show on the ACB Organ Health dedicated to open discussions about transplant, organ donation, health & wellness, and more.

About the ACB Organ Health YouTube Channel

The Centre for Living Organ Donation at UHN has been working with patient partners, professionals and creatives from the African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) communities to develop and launch, in September 2021, the ACB Organ Health, a YouTube Channel dedicated to sharing experiences and knowledge of transplantation and living donation.

The ACB Organ Health YouTube Channel Advisory Committee plans, co-creates and helps promote engaging, informative and trusted video content and supporting resources for ACB patients, caregivers, clinicians and community. A pilot intervention of the A.C.T.I.O.N project, this initiative provides accessible education on organ health including preventative care. Ultimately, ACB Organ Health aims to start the discussion of transplant disparities in the ACB community, share educational content, help prevent individuals within the ACB community from having health complications that may lead to an organ transplant, and perhaps most importantly, and share their personal stories to encourage and inspire others.

Visit the ACB Organ Health YouTube Channel.
Black History Month in Canada

Every February, people across Canada participate in Black History Month events and festivities that honour the legacy of Black people in Canada and their communities.

The 2024 theme for Black History Month is: “Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build”. This theme celebrates the rich past and present contributions and accomplishments of Black people in Canada, while aspiring to embrace new opportunities for the future.

The theme aligns with the 10th year of the International Decade for People of African Descent and recognizes that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected.

No matter where you live, we invite all Canadians to learn more about Black Canadian communities, and how they continue to help shape Canada.

Learn more here.