William 'Duffy' McDuffie of Middletown served in the Marines and the Air Force for 27 years, but in 2021 he found himself in the fight of his life awaiting a heart transplant.
He received that heart on Father's Day through the Gift of Life, the organ and tissue donor program for the region.
April is National Donate Life Month and McDuffie is sharing his story in the hopes of increasing the number of organ donors in Delaware, especially among minority communities.
"You always think you've got plenty of time and I was going to wait to do the things I was going to do, but now I live everyday, everyday, to the fullest," said McDuffie, and that includes enjoying time with his new grandson.
"My grandson was born in September and I got to see my grandson being born and talk to him," said McDuffie.
McDuffie, who is African-American, acknowledged that his second chance at life does come with a bittersweet component.
"You're happy to be alive but you do realize that somebody had to pass away for you to be here," said McDuffie.
According to statistics, about 60-percent of the 150 Delawareans awaiting transplants are people of color, reflecting national numbers, and that's where McDuffie's message resonates.
"Not only older people, but younger people, should all be donors, especially people of color...especially people of color," said McDuffie.
There is an ongoing effort within the donation advocacy community to increase donor registrations among communities of color as transplant matches made within ethnic groups can be even more compatible and successful over the long term.
The Gift of Life is holding its annual Donor Dash in Philadelphia on Sunday, April 24, 2022.