From the archives …
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Did you know that August 1 is celebrated as National Minority Organ Donation Awareness Day? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health has designated this time to reach out to our minority populations regarding the need for donors and to educate about the facts surrounding all aspects of organ, tissue, and blood transfusions. Based on statistics, it seems “minority” is perhaps not the correct word to use. Of the 110,000 + people on transplant waiting lists, fifty-one percent, are classified as minorities. African Americans make up the biggest portion of minorities on the waiting list at 27 percent, followed by Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders.
As this is being written, there are 111,627 Americans on transplant waiting lists. Between January and April 2011 there were 4,490 organ donors. While people like me are fortunate enough to have received this too-hard-to-find-the-words amazing gift of life, there are many who are not as lucky. Too many of those on that list die every hour of every day becuase the need simply outweighs the availability of donated organs. Minorities overall have a high need for organ transplant because some diseases affecting kidneys, hearts, lungs, pracreas and livers afre found more often in racial and ethnics populations than in the general population. As an example, African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders are three times to suffer from end stage kidney disease as compared tothe white population. Native Americands are four times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. All of these conditions can result in organ failure that may be best treated through organ transplants and transplant, in some cases, is the only option. Racial and ethnic minority communities are highly affected by this shortage and are disproportionately represented on the waiting list, because the rate of organ donation, while in proportion to their share of the population, does not keep pace with the number of needed transplants. Studies have shown that people of the same ethnic group prove to be better matches for organ donation.
Those of us who are alive because of the gift of life are certainly a minority. But no matter the label we, or others, choose for us, the bottom line is that we are all people on this one big place called earth. No matter the day, we should always be looking for a way to help others. August 1, National Minority Organ Awareness Day