Carlton Slade has endured nine surgeries since being diagnosed with congestive heart failure.
"I've had open heart surgery three times,” said Slade. "Over the past year and a half, I was functioning off eight percent. I could hardly breathe."
Slade said he filled his time with coaching youth league football. The once-aspiring airman learned how serious his illness was moments before beginning life as a serviceman.
"I was actually at the podium, about to be sworn in,” said Slade. "God told me that we were going to get the transplant. Just hold on."
Most recently, he spent 50 days in the hospital. It’s where he learned his fate was changing.
"They were like: “we got you a heart,’" said Slade. "I feel amazing. I've never had a fully functioning heart."
Every ten minutes someone new is added to the national transplant list. There's always a need for more organ donors across the U.S., but the need for black organ donors is even greater.
Dr. Charles Modlin handles kidney transplants at Cleveland Clinic. He said more education is needed to encourage more people to become organ donors.
"There are over 120,000 individuals on the kidney transplant list nationally, “said Modlin. "If you have to go to the emergency room, that kind of thing, the doctors will let you perish to take your organs. That's a complete myth. The race of the individual donor is not a major factor. It’s based on cross-matching, compatibility. The more closely and genetically matched the donor and the recipient are, the lower the incidence of rejection."