28-year-old Ibrahim Haleem was born with a rare condition that caused his liver to fail. By the time he was six years old, he had undergone four liver transplants.
“Before the fourth transplant, it was tricky for my parents because they had seen me go through so much pain and suffering,” Haleem said.
His fourth liver donor match came quickly.
“My life probably would have ended if that donor didn’t come in as fast as it did, because of how much pain and how much damage the body had taken from the first three transplants," Haleem said.
These days, Haleem leads a "normal life," now married and teaching physical education classes at a Palos Park elementary school.
Haleem said that he’s eternally grateful for the people who donated their organs and that he’s made it his mission to educate others about becoming a donor.
He started a charity, Miracles Made Through Research, to help fund research efforts.
Haleem said his entire family supports organ donation, which experts at organ and tissue donor network, The Gift of Hope, said is important.
“I would just ask people to really have the conversation with their family. No matter how difficult or distasteful, really talk about end of life decisions and then register,” Director of donor family services and community outreach at Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network of Illinois Marion Shuck said.
According to Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Network, ethnic minorities make up nearly 60% of people waiting to have an organ transplant, but only one third are registered donors.
August is Minority Donor Awareness Month and experts said it’s the perfect opportunity to educate everyone on the never ending need for people to become organ donors.
“We are able to honor your wishes and really create a lasting legacy for families, which is what National Minority Donor Awareness Month is all about," Shuck said.