August 1 is the 15th Anniversary of National Minority Donor Awareness Day.
Alonzo Mourning on National Minority Donor Awareness Day
Minority populations in the United States, particularly African-Americans, are disproportionately affected by illnesses that can lead to the need for organ, tissue or eye transplants. In Illinois, nearly 5,000 people are on the organ transplant waiting list. Nearly 40 percent of these people are African-Americans, most of whom are waiting for a donor kidney.
Many of the conditions leading to the need for a transplant, such as diabetes and hypertension, occur with greater frequency among minority populations. National Minority Donor Awareness Day, observed annually on August 1, seeks to raise awareness of the urgent need for donors and transplants within the multicultural community. A secondary goal is to educate the public about donation facts and how to register their decision to donate life.
According to data from Donate Life America, minorities make up many of the people who receive organs but very few of those who donate. In 2010, 5,963 African-Americans received organ transplants, but only 2,089
African-Americans were donors. In the same year, 3,795 Latinos received an organ transplant, but only 1,953 Latinos were donors.
Although ethnicity and race are not determining factors in who receives donated organs, the success rates of transplants increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic and racial group. Lower donation rates among minorities can result in longer waiting periods for transplants for minority organ recipients. Currently, minorities make up 55 percent of the 111,000 people on the transplant waiting list in the United States.
Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Howard K. Koh and Founder of National Minority Donor Awareness Day, Dr. Clive O. Callendar
Individuals and organizations across the country are celebrating the 15th anniversary of National Minority Donor Awareness Day. Take this opportunity to build awareness within your home and your community. Share your decision to give life through organ and tissue donation.
In Chicago, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network will host a press conference at Mt. Sinai Hospital to encourage all minority groups to register as organ and tissue donors. Navigate to the full press release for additional details.
Take 30 seconds to register as an organ and tissue donor at DonateLifeIllinois.org!