A Chance to Dance with My Daughters

Thanks to a kidney transplant, Daronta Briggs got the chance to walk his daughter down the aisle.

Briggs was first diagnosed with kidney disease in 1992, shortly after leaving the military. He broke the news to his four daughters, Jasmine, Nnekia, Natasha, and Jewel, reminding them to keep up with their health.

“I told them it was possible that they can get kidney disease, too, so to make sure to watch what they ate, watch sodium, exercise, and control their weight. Everything I learned, I shared with them,” he said.

Daronta with his daughters Christmas Day in 1999. Source: Daronta Briggs

Upon hearing the news, his oldest daughter, Jasmine Moore, shared her worries about possibly not having those father – daughter moments due to her father’s illness.

“I did not grow up thinking much about weddings, I never dreamt about the dress, the venue, or the colors. But one thing that I was certain about was that I wanted my father to be there to walk me down the aisle. When my dad was diagnosed with kidney disease, I wasn’t sure what the future would hold,” said Jasmine.

Unfortunately, Daronta’s health worsened and by July 2008 he was diagnosed with end stage renal disease. For over four years, Daronta was on dialysis to keep his kidneys functioning. During those times, he remembers his daughters being extremely supportive.

“They would come visit me while I was on the dialysis machine and always wanted to know if Daddy was ok,” said Briggs.

In April 2010, Daronta’s nephrologist told him that he was a good candidate to receive a transplant. He was placed on the waiting list and in October 2012, received a kidney transplant at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His daughters were elated, of course.

“October 23, 2012, may not be a significant day to anyone else, but it is for my family and especially my Dad. It’s the day my dad received a second chance at life,” said Jewel.

“When my Dad called me with the news about his transplant, my heart dropped. I was overwhelmed with happiness and I could not wait to support him and celebrate this next chapter of his life,” said Jasmine.

The next chapter for Daronta began with a commitment to live his life to the fullest and become an advocate for donation and transplantation.

“After my transplant, the surgeon said, ‘We did not give you a kidney to sit in a rocking chair. Get out in the community, be an advocate, help veterans, help other people in the community.’ That’s what I’ve been doing.”

Daronta became a Donate Life Ambassador and started to share his story in the community. He is an athlete on Team Maryland, a team of transplant recipients, living donors, and donor families that participate in the Transplant Games of America. Daronta also founded the Veterans Transplantation Association, a non-profit organization that supports U.S. Armed Force veterans that have received an organ, eye, or tissue transplant.

Daronta and his daughters joining him at Donate Life Family Family Fun Run. Source: Daronta Briggs

Ever since his transplant, Daronta’s daughters have seen a positive change in him.

“Witnessing him be a voice for people who are, sadly often ignored, is so inspiring,” Natasha said.

“He’s always been a helping hand, a great listener and a leader, but everything is enhanced now! I am super proud of the man that he has become and I know God isn’t finished with him just yet. I just pray that I am making my dad as proud as he is making me,” said Jewel.

Daronta wears many hats. He’s a veteran, a transplant recipient, an advocate. But most importantly, a father whose organ donor and transplant gave him a second chance at life. A chance which included walking Jasmine down the aisle in January.

“It was one of my biggest dreams to attend my daughters’ weddings. I’ve done one and got three more to go.”

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