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‘I had to say wipe away your tears': Ex-NFL player from metro Atlanta continues search for kidney amid coronavirus outbreak

“If I had got a donor the last thing, I would’ve wanted is for that donor to be infected in the hospital with this virus,” Willie Blackwell said.

MCDONOUGH, Ga. — It has been a little over a year since we introduced you to Willie Blackwell.

The former Morris Brown College football stand-out, retired NFL player, ordained minister and more importantly, husband, father and grandfather said he remains positive.

Just last year he got a grim diagnosis from his doctor that he needs another kidney.

A search that has gotten more difficult due to COVID-19.

RELATED: Are you a match? Community leader and former NFL player, Willie Blackwell is now fighting for his life

“I’ve probably missed a couple of months because of all that has transpired, because they were not doing any transplants. I kind of got down on myself," Blackwell said. "My kidney function is at 15 percent. If I don’t get a kidney at some point I’m not going to be around."

According to WebMD, across the United States, transplants from deceased donors dropped more than 50% from early March to early April, amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Much of the decrease is from kidney transplants, because they are the most common organ transplant.

Credit: Nick Sturdivant/11Alive

“If I had got a donor the last thing I would’ve wanted is for that donor to be infected in the hospital with this virus," Blackwell said. "So, I had to say wipe away your tears. Encourage yourself."

Blackwell said he’s even upped the social media campaign to find a kidney. He continues to connect with people across the country.

“I’m on Instagram. I’m getting involved with TikTok,” he explained.

RELATED: Ways to help during the coronavirus pandemic

“If I can get the word out to people to continue to take care of themselves and if you find something that’s wrong, get it checked out. Don’t wait to the last minute,” Blackwell added.

According to the American Society of Transplantation, “the risk of acquiring COVID-19 from organ donation is low. Donors are screened for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure history.”

Click here, for more information on how you can help.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.


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