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Release date:
Feb. 27, 2002
Contact: Elaine Justice, Associate Director: 404-727-0643 or ejustic@emory.edu

Candler School of Theology Students Give Fundraising Concert for Classmate March 6

In the space of a year, Lutalo Kyles, a student at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, fought back from kidney failure that nearly killed him and received a double-organ transplant that saved his life. Today, he looks forward to receiving his master of divinity degree in May and spreading the word on organ donations.

Through it all, the Candler community rallied around Kyles as he underwent successful kidney and pancreas transplant surgery last May, just after a semester that saw the seminarian alternating his class schedule with an exhausting regimen of kidney dialysis three days a week.

Kyles’ classmates will come together again for a concert of praise and thanksgiving—and fundraising— featuring Candler’s Voices of Imani student gospel choir at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 6 at Cannon Chapel, 515 Kilgo Circle on the Emory campus. The choir will sing traditional and contemporary African-American gospel songs during the performance. For more information, call 404-727-4180.

The concert is free and open to the public, but the choir will take up an offering for Kyles to help defray the costs (about $2,000 a month) of the anti-rejection medication he must take for the rest of his life to keep his new organs healthy. Kyles is enrolled in a matching funds program with the Georgia Transplant Foundation to help pay his medical expenses and the foundation will match all funds received by March 14. Persons who wish to donate should make checks payable to the National Transplant Assistance Fund – Kyles.

The assistance from his classmates is "overwhelming," Kyles says.

"When I was sick, the Candler community and my church were so supportive of me and my family. My doctors said that was what really brought me through it all because I almost didn’t make it," says Kyles, who nearly died when his kidneys, already weakened by diabetes, began failing as he battled pneumonia. "Their prayers got me through it."

Kyles, a member of the Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church, now shares his story occasionally with church groups and talks about the need for more organ donations. Once he graduates and gains more strength, Kyles says he will devote more time to the cause.

"I want to give back as much as I can. The need is especially great among African Americans and I was lucky to have found a match so soon," Kyles says. "There is not really an unwillingness but more of a lack of knowledge about what organ donations involve."

The Georgia Transplant Foundation helps meet the needs of organ transplant candidates, recipients and their families by providing information and education about organ transplantation, granting financial assistance and advocacy. For more information about the foundation, call 770-457-3796 or see www.gatransplant.org.
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