‘I had to survive for my daughter’: DC radio personality celebrates kidney transplant decades later

D.C. radio personality Olivia Fox’s work in urban radio, from her iconic morning run on WKYS to her success at Majic 102.3 (Courtesy Olivia Fox)

This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.

D.C. radio personality Olivia Fox is celebrating her ten-year anniversary as a kidney transplant survivor.

When Olivia Fox’s kidneys shut down in 2008, she says she knew one thing.

“I had to survive for my daughter,” she said of her young child.

Fox was diagnosed with kidney disease years earlier in 1996 and was successfully treated with steroids for FSGS, Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis which she describes as scar tissue developing on the filtering system of the kidneys.

While covering the Super Bowl in Miami, Florida, she began experiencing flu-like symptoms and was hospitalized for ten days for what she says doctors called a virus of unknown origin.

She says the virus caused her kidneys to shut down and she was on and off dialysis for the next four years.

During those years, her health wasn’t her only concern.

“I went through a divorce, so I was a single mother, I lost my job, my benefits,” Fox said.

Then, what she calls “a miracle” happened. She found the perfect kidney match in someone who was not a family member.

On April 6, 2012, her best friend Mike Green, who was living in New York at the time, donated one of his kidneys to her. She says as she was being rolled into the operating room, she remembers thinking to herself, “finally I’m going to get an opportunity for a second chance.”

Fox says years later she still has flashbacks.

“Images and situations will come back to me and I’ll think, ‘wow.’ It’s kind of like PTSD.”

She believes she didn’t have time to digest what she was going through at the time.

“I was just doing what I needed to do to stay alive,” she said.

Over these last ten years, Fox has used her second chance to be a tireless advocate for peo

D.C. radio personality Olivia Fox’s work in urban radio, from her iconic morning run on WKYS to her success at Majic 102.3 (Courtesy, Black Women In Radio)

ple suffering from kidney disease.

According to the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, African Americans are almost four times as likely as white people to develop kidney failure, although they only make up 14% of the U.S. population.

Fox has worked with American Kidney Fund, the National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) at Howard University and served as a board member for MOTTEP.

“[I have] spent countless time and energy educating people, specifically African Americans, because we are so susceptible to kidney failure,” she says.

Fox’s work in urban radio, from her iconic morning run on WKYS to her success at Majic 102.3, has also been celebrated in recent months. Black Women in Radio joined the Library of Congress’s Radio Preservation task force in honoring 30 distinguished black women in radio, including Fox’s contribution to Black radio culture.

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