National Minority Donor Awareness Month brings attention to the need for more organ donors within all minority communities. Originally established in 1996 as a weeklong observance during the first week of August, it was recently expanded to include the entire month of August. National Minority Donor Awareness Month brings together national and state organizations to highlight the need for more ethnically diverse donors using educational outreach, the promotion of healthy living and disease prevention to lessen the need for transplants, and by encouraging donor registration.
Individuals in African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native communities make up nearly 60 percent of the national transplant waiting list of more than 100,000 in this country; however, the number of donors within these communities is relatively small. Nationally, the number of minority donors is about 30 percent of the number of recipients. In the Hispanic community, the number of donors is slightly better—40 percent of the number of recipients. And while transplants are, many times, successful between ethnicities, sometimes the long-term success of a transplant can be better within a common genetic background. Generally speaking, a more diverse donor pool may help shorten the waiting list for everyone.
Many diseases and chronic health conditions lead to the need for transplants specifically in multi-cultural communities. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension and chronic liver disease affect the kidneys, heart, liver and pancreas. The most needed transplant among those waiting is a kidney, for which there is a nearly 5-year wait.
A single organ donor can provide lifesaving organ transplants to eight individuals. Organs that can be transplanted include the heart, two lungs, two kidneys, pancreas, liver and small intestines. A single tissue donor can provide life-enhancing tissue transplants to dozens of individuals. Tissue transplants include corneas that restore sight, bones, veins, ligaments, tendons and skin. Each year more than 85,000 corneas are donated nationally. And nearly 2 million tissue transplants made life better for individuals last year.
What can you do to help increase the number of organs available for transplant?
It’s easy! Register as an organ/tissue donor today! If you are 16 or older, register your decision without leaving home. It takes just 30 seconds!