Pine Bluff organ donor’s mother shares story

DJ Tate produced music under the stage name D.I.R.T.Y. R.E.D. alongside fellow rapper and friend Gattie The King. His music was creative and profound as 'he had a real sense of humor and always liked to have the last word,' his mother Stephanie Farmer Tate Martin said. (Special to The Commercial)

Just days before his unexpected death, Dwight James "DJ" Tate spoke his last testimony surrounded by family and friends.

"I'm not perfect and I make mistakes, but I always put God first," he said.

On Feb. 12, 2018, Tate died of a sudden heart attack at age 37.

Tate's mother, Stephanie Farmer Tate Martin of Warren, didn't know he was registered as an organ donor when she arrived at the hospital that day.

However, she learned of Tate's decision after speaking with team members from ARORA (Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency).

The former Pine Bluff resident was described as a loving father and son.

"They were able to recover bone tissue, eye tissue and heart valves from DJ after he passed," Martin said in a news release. "It brought me comfort that he was able to donate tissues and bless other people."

Martin knows that her son's corneas were able to restore the sight of two people and his heart valves were recovered and donated to a 9-year-old boy in California.

Tate had one daughter, LaDonna, who was 13 at the time of his passing. Besides spending quality time with LaDonna and working at Riceland Foods in Stuttgart, Tate managed several other interests, from rapping and producing music with friends to selling scented oils.

"DJ was very charismatic, passionate, and a stick of dynamite," Martin said. "He was real loving, caring, and kind. He was very affectionate. He was really creative."

Tate was fearless, his mother said, and he trusted and believed in God. Tate was known to share biblical scripture with his friends from an early age, and even went out of his way to help spread the message among homeless people and others facing challenges and difficulties: fitting for a man who never met a stranger.

Tate's story of an unexpected heart attack is tragic, yet not unheard of for many Black people, according to an ARORA news release.

People of color often face disproportionately higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease that contribute to organ failure, especially kidney failure, pronouncing the need for organ donation and transplants, the release said.

August is National Minority Donor Awareness Month. The observance began in 1996 by the National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program, bringing heightened awareness to donation and transplantation in multicultural communities.

This awareness campaign focuses primarily on Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American communities.

Of the more than 100,000 people awaiting a life-saving organ transplant, nearly 60% are from multicultural communities. Transplants can be successful regardless of the ethnicity of the donor and recipient. However, the chance of longer-term survival may be greater if the donor and recipient are closely matched in terms of their shared genetic background, according to the release.

Martin said she now realizes how registering as an organ and tissue donor can help save and restore lives.

"Registering as a donor means giving life to someone in need," Martin said. "If you're not already registered as a donor, be a light and save a life."

At his memorial service, Tate's friends sang the gospel hymn "This Little Light of Mine," as an ode to Tate and all the lives he touched.

"Everyone can follow Tate's example and let their light shine during National Minority Donor Awareness Month by registering as an organ and tissue donor," according to the release.

People can register to become an organ and tissue donor when renewing their driver's licenses at the state revenue office, by going to or Details: or follow ARORA on social media.

  photo  DJ Tate (center) is pictured with his mother Stephanie Farmer Tate Martin (left) and daughter LaDonna Tate. DJ was a loving family man who spent much quality time with his daughter. 'When you talk to LaDonna, keep it real with her,' his mother recalls being told. 'Don’t sugar coat stuff. It’s a cold world out there.' (Special to The Commercial)