Next Wednesday, August 1, marks National Minority Donor Awareness Day, observed every August 1 and established in 1996 as an intensive awareness campaign reaching out to all ethnic groups. It focuses on donation misconceptions and issues specific to minorities. The objective is to promote healthy living and to increase the number of people who sign up in a donor consent registry, have family discussions and become life-giving donors. Additionally, the national observance increases awareness of the conditions leading to the need for a transplant that occur with greater frequency in minority populations.
Though minorities make up only 20 percent of the U.S. population and 23 percent of donors, they make up 51 percent of the national transplant waiting list. The high percentage stems from the increased frequency among minority populations of diabetes, hypertension and other conditions leading to the need for a transplant. Of all patients waiting for transplants, more than 72,000 are waiting for kidney transplants nationwide, and more than 3,600 are waiting for kidneys in Illinois.
Why is increasing donation among minorities so important?
Although organs can be given to different racial and ethnic groups, transplanted organs will “match” better with a kidney donated by someone of the same race:
· The degree to which a match exists between the donor of an organ and the recipient plays an important role in the success of the transplant. Genetic makeup is especially important when matching kidneys.
·The relatively low donation rates among African-American and minority ethnic communities reduces the chance of a successful match being found for African-American and minority ethnic patients awaiting transplants.
Minority community members are invited to attend this free program. Screenings include blood pressure and glucose testing―simple tests that can detect chronic kidney disease. Trained medical staff will conduct the screenings and will make recommendations based on test results. Gift of Hope staff members will be on-hand to answer questions and provide education on organ and tissue donation. Volunteer speakers will also share their personal stories about how organ and tissue donation touched their lives. Spanish translators will also be available.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) includes conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure that damage kidneys and decrease their ability to maintain proper health. When left untreated, these problems may eventually lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life. Early detection and treatment can often keep CKD from getting worse.
Please be sure to help spread the word on this important day. I apologize for the early post, I will be away from the blogosphere until Aug. 6, but I wanted to make sure to address this crucial issue.
Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network is a not-for-profit organ procurement organization entrusted with coordinating organ and tissue donation and providing donor family services and public education in Illinois and northwest Indiana. .
This blog focuses on outreach initiatives, expert insight and commentary pertaining to the organ/tissue donation community.