Behind the podcast: Hear Kimberly talk about her story in “Taking Charge,” on our Let’s Talk Hope podcast at or wherever you find your podcasts.

Community leader gives back to the Black community with her own story

When Tiffany Mathis was disabled by back pain and obesity – often bed-ridden or using a walker to get around – she made a decision.

Tiffany promised herself that if she could find a way to live without pain, she would never sit down again. “I’m not gonna live the rest of my life like this. I wanna be healthy.”

Degenerative disc disease made it painful for Tiffany to get out of bed every day. That changed after she had weight-loss surgery and spinal surgery using donor bone and tissue. Tiffany, 39 years old, is now the CEO and Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Illinois. Tiffany is a leader in her community, making a difference through her work and living almost pain-free.

“Having a donor provide… the bone and tissue that I needed for my back has been the reason why I’ve been able to do anything at this point. So I’m very grateful for that procedure because it gave me my life back.”

Through her experiences, Tiffany realized that a mistrust of the medical profession coupled with the custom of not talking about personal health issues have kept her friends and family members in the Black community from accessing the health care they deserve. She believes that positive health care outcomes are not being discussed enough and recommendations are not shared enough. This leads to more misconceptions in Black communities about the health care system.

“It’s also our responsibility to give information to each other, so that we can all have a better quality of life.”

Tiffany strives to improve the health of her community by freely sharing her own health journey and being transparent about how impactful tissue donation was for her. She supports others in advocating for themselves and encourages others to seek a second opinion or consider other options if they need to. When it comes to her own medical care, Tiffany reads her records, does research and asks questions.

She advises others, “you need to have a personal relationship with your doctor so that you can build that trust and know that when they advise you of something, they have your best interest at heart.”

“I know that my doctor works for me and that’s how I approach that relationship. And if I don’t feel like I got the answer I needed, I’ll find another doctor. I will do whatever I need to do because, I wanna live and I want to take care of myself.”

Tiffany is grateful that pain and obesity no longer prevent her from living the life she wants. Since her surgeries, she can now stand for long periods, sleep comfortably, sit comfortably, and even run with her kids without taking pain medication.

“So I think that always just paying kindness forward is the one thing that we can do for each other, to give of ourselves in that way,” she says.


Listen to Tiffany’s story on our Let’s Talk Hope podcast at, or wherever you find podcasts.

Register your decision today to become an organ, eye and tissue donor. Talk with your family and friends about your decision to donate life.