“A fighter like you. Someone could benefit from your heart,” Kyla Aquino tells an African American man stopping by the organ registry booth at a heath fair in Oak Park. Her charm disarms him and he changes his “no” to a “maybe.”
Aquino, 33, a volunteer with Donate Life California, is a two-time kidney transplant recipient who has raised awareness about organ donations since she was 17. Her enormous smile melts hearts and breaks down barriers. Death is a difficult subject to talk about with strangers, she says, but she does is with grace. She makes a special effort to reach out to minorities where the need for organ donors is greatest.
“I have the courage to speak,” Aquino says. “If I have the talents to convey the message, I’ve got to do my darndest.”