Community rallies around WSSU student in final stages of kidney and pancreas failure

Community rallies around WSSU student in final stages of kidney and pancreas failure
February 18
00:00 2016
Jasmine Morgan gives blood Tuesday, Feb. 16. With the help of the Winston-Salem American Red Cross, Winston-Salem State University sponsored a blood drive to support senior Sierra Payne. The therapeutic recreation majors in the final stages of kidney and pancreas failure.



For her entire life Sierra Payne has battled Type I diabetes, a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little to no insulin, but at first glance you would never know that the senior Therapeutic Recreation major at Winston-Salem State University is in the final stages of kidney and pancreas failure as a result of the condition.

During a sit-down with The Chronicle, Payne said although she is able to remain resilient some days she wishes she were healthy enough to participate in campus activities such as basketball games or just going out with friends on the weekend.

“There are days I wish I could be more social but I don’t let that get me down,” she said. “I just take it one day at a time and thank God for another day.” Being the private person that she is, when Sierra got the word from doctors that she needed the double transplant procedure, at first she wasn’t going to tell anyone, but soon after word got to her older brother Jonathan Payne, he started a GoFundMe campaign and hundreds began to offer their support.

“I’m a very private person,” she continued. “I really was going to keep it to myself, but when I saw how many people were supporting the cause, I saw it as a way to not only to get help with my procedure, but a way to educate the community on chronic diseases like diabetes that

plague the African-American community.”

In less than three months the “Sierra Transplant Fund,” has accumulated $2,000, but the support didn’t stop there; the WSSU family decided they wanted to get involved as well.

On Tuesday, Feb. 16 with the help of the Winston-Salem American Red Cross, the university sponsored a blood drive to support Payne.

Dozens of students made their way to the Cleon F. Thompson Jr. Student Services Center to donate blood and show their support for their fellow Ram. Payne said she was surprised by the number of people who have supported her.

“Once I seen the support I was getting, it kinda took a burden off of me,” noted Payne. “I really do appreciate it all. It’s amazing how many people have been willing to help and give me words of encouragement.”

Sierra’s mother Kim Payne has seen her daughter overcome many obstacles and said she is a true inspiration to her. She said she was devastated by what doctors told her.

“I have seen what Sierra has gone through over the years,” she said. “But she has taken it all in stride and not complained once.”

“She is definitely one of the strongest people I know, and a real inspiration.”

Although the support has been great for Sierra many who suffer from diabetes aren’t as lucky, especially within the African-American community. According to the American Diabetes Association, blacks are nearly two times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than are whites, and are significantly more likely to suffer from blindness, kidney dis-ease and amputations as a result. Payne said although she wants people to support her, she also wants African-Americans to become more aware.

Payne still needs$2,000 to fund the double transplant procedure. To support the Sierra Kidney Transplant Fund visit

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