The Brightside: Double T Foundation of DE
DELAWARE – A non-profit organization in Delaware is making the idea of being a donor an easier task for those who can, while also supporting those in need of a life-changing miracle. It all started because of two best friends who truly gave one another life.
Being someone’s miracle is a major goal for those with Delaware’s Double T Foundation. It’s an organization that addresses, educates, coordinates, and provides aid and relief to those who are living organ donors through fundraisers and other initiatives.
“It’s an emotional journey when you go through a kidney transplant and you have your best friend who gives you her kidney,” says the founder of the organization, Terry Barnes. Barnes is an organ recipient herself and received a kidney from Traci Russell, her best friend, and co-founder. However, after this life-saving event, both women realized there was a need to help educate, mentor, and financially support those who also wanted to become a living donors. “A living donor is not just an organ to be donated, it is also blood, platelets, and breast milk that also helps save lives,” says Barnes. Russell adds, “Terry and I wanted to be that face and be that voice and help those people that want to be a hero or need a hero.”
Since the creation of their organization in 2018, they’ve been working tirelessly to create a more cohesive organ donor environment. “Our foundation is getting the attention that it needs and we’re growing, we are helping more people every day,” says Barnes. Russell adds, “When you are an organ donor, you have many doctors that you need to see, and you have to be out of work for a certain period, you need to have a caregiver for approximately two to three weeks.”
Unfortunately, the pandemic created obstacles, such as a blood donation crisis. However, they say during the past two years, they truly honed in on making their organization as informative, helpful, and life-changing as possible. They coordinate rides to doctors’ appointments and work with other organ donation organizations to get patients connected with the right people. “Help by becoming a living donor or at least helping us find those living donors and helping other recipients that need a living donor,” says Russell. She adds, “Be humble, be an advocate, don’t wait for somebody to sit around for somebody to come and find you a hero.”
Through their work, they’ve been able to create the live life give life ambassador program where people like Gail Mendenhall, are chosen to represent the organization for a year and advocate. Mendenhall tells us, saving a life can go beyond donating an organ, it’s about educating, advocating, and simply being a helping hand. Which she says is a rewarding job when you’re supporting such a great cause. “I learned a lot over the past year from these wonderful two women and the other girls that are in the foundation and I just hope to keep supporting them when I’m no longer ambassador.”
Russell and Barnes also tell 47 ABC, they’re truly bonded for life, physically and emotionally, and they hope their story helps others too. “I would never have changed this decision in the world no matter how much we give each other a hard time,” says Russell. Barnes adds, “So as we continue through this journey the Double T Foundation, it’s our heart and soul.”
Recently Governor John Carney signed Senate Bill 301 into law, which provides incentives for residents in Delaware to donate organs and bone marrow, while also granting paid time off for employees who donate.