No one ever really expects to need an organ donation, not until a serious illness or injury makes you face the reality that your body needs help if it’s going to sustain itself.
August is National Multiethnic Donor Awareness Month, and August 1-7 is National Minority Donor Awareness Week. It’s an important opportunity to learn about the need for organ and tissue donation among ethnic minorities, and how minority donors can help.
Donate Life America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of donated organs, eyes, and tissues to help save and heal others through transplantation, estimates that 100,000 Americans are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants. The most commonly transplanted organs are the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, pancreas, and intestines, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of the 100,000 people waiting for organs, nearly 60% are ethnic minorities. In 2021, minority donors were only a fraction of the minority organ recipients. This issue is important because studies have shown the chance of longer-term survival is greater if the donor and recipient have a more closely matched genetic background.
Certain ethnic minorities are more likely to need organ transplants than others. For example, Black Americans are more likely to have health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease which could lead to needing an organ transplant. They also face disproportionate barriers to care. Many times, individuals do not know how sick they are until their disease has progressed. Hispanic minorities also have a higher likelihood of diabetes, liver disease, kidney failure, and heart disease. This leads to higher rates of organ transplantation.
Across all ethnicities, 17 people die each day waiting for a donated organ. Fortunately, this is a statistic that can change if more people choose to become organ donors upon their death.
Through the gift of one donor, up to eight lives can be saved. A single donor can help restore eyesight to two people and help more than 75 people heal with their tissue donation. Contrary to a common fear, choosing to become an organ donor will not change the type of care you receive as a patient. All major religions support organ donation, and donors may still have the type of funeral they prefer after their donation.
Some people may worry that if they are older, their organs won’t be of any use to anyone. That is not the case. There is no age limit to organ donation, and people as old as 70 or older have both donated and received organs. The oldest known donor was 92 years old, whose donation saved the life of a 69-year-old woman.
If you are not yet registered as an organ donor, visit RegisterMe.org to sign up now. Make sure your friends and family know about your wishes to donate your organs and/or tissue, then encourage them to visit DonateLife.net to learn more and sign up as a donor.
Do you or a loved one need help at home? Email firstname.lastname@example.org now to learn how we can alleviate stress and provide individuals with the highest quality of life.