National Minority Donor Awareness Week
People of all ages, races, and ethnicities can save and enhance lives by donating their organs, eyes, and tissues. Organ and tissue transplants are needed by people everywhere in the US. In 2015, more than 30,000 transplants brought new life to patients and their families, according to Donate Life America.
National Minority Donor Awareness Week—August 1-7—is designed to increase awareness of the need for more organ, eye, and tissue donors, especially within multicultural communities. This special observance honors minorities who have been donors, and encourages others to register as donors while also taking better care of their health in an effort to reduce the number of people who need transplants.
Each day, about 79 people receive organ transplants. However, 22 people die each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs, reports the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Every 10 minutes, another person is added to the national transplant waiting list.
According to HHS, people of most races and ethnicities in the US donate in proportion to their representation in the population. The need for transplants in some groups, though, is disproportionately high, sometimes due to a high incidence of certain conditions.
Although organs are not matched according to race/ethnicity, and people of different races frequently match one another, all individuals waiting for an organ transplant will have a better chance of receiving one if there are large numbers of donors from their racial/ethnic background. This is because compatible blood types and tissue markers—critical qualities for donor/recipient matching—are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity. A greater diversity of donors may potentially increase access to transplantation for everyone.
Anyone, regardless of age or medical history (with few exceptions), can sign up to be a donor. Currently, there are 120 million people in the US who are registered as organ donors. For information about becoming one, visit your state’s donor registry: www.organdonor.gov/becomingdonor/stateregistries.html