Do you know someone who is in the need of a transplant? When you get your driver license, they ask the question “would you like to be an organ donor”. Have you really thought about being an organ donor, or do you let that question go by and answer no without really thinking? What does it mean to be an organ donor? Being an organ donor can help save and prolong lives. Organ donors are medically evaluated, and if the evaluation doesn’t rule out donation, a search begins for matching patients who need organs. If you have a love one or friend in need or a transplant, you can find out if you are a match. The American Transplant Foundation states that often, transplanted organs from living donors have greater longevity than those from deceased donors. Genetic matches between living donors and candidates may lessen the risk of rejection. Kidneys and Livers Function Almost Immediately: A kidney or liver from a living donor usually functions immediately in the recipient.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans make up the largest group of minorities in need of an organ transplant. In 2014, African Americans made up 12.7 percent of the national population.
- The number of organ transplants performed on black Americans in 2015 was only 17% of the number of black Americans currently waiting for a transplant. The number of transplants performed on white Americans was 31% of the number currently waiting.
- While 29.8% of the total candidates currently waiting for transplants are black American, they comprised 13.5% of organ donors in 2015.
- In 2015, 73 percent of donor organs from African Americans were from deceased donors.
- Although the total number of White Americans on organ transplant waiting lists is about 1.4 times greater than that of black Americans, the number of candidates waiting for a kidney transplant is almost the same between blacks and whites.
- Black Americans have higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure than white Americans. These conditions are known to put the patient at risk for organ failures.
Below is information taken from usnews.com article dated September 18, 2018.
- According to federal data, blacks account for just 13 percent of the U.S. population, but they make up nearly 30 percent of the more than 114,000 U.S. patients waiting for organ transplants.
- Although black patients comprise around 33 percent of those waiting for a kidney and 25 percent of those waiting for a heart, those in the racial group make up less than 15 percent of living and deceased organ-donor pools.
- There is a lack of knowledge about things like (organ) transplants and bone marrow (transplants), that is not understood well enough.
- The chronic gulf between black and white organ transplantation “may reflect the differences in access to health care as well as other factors that disadvantage specific ethnic groups,” says Scantlebury, associate director of the Kidney Transplant Program at Christiana Care, a regional nonprofit health care system based in Delaware.
- But there are indications, Scantlebury says, that racial discrimination may play a role in access to transplant waiting lists: “Research also has shown that African-Americans in low socioeconomic neighborhoods, along with poor education (about transplants), are less likely to be listed for transplantation compared to whites in similar neighborhoods.”
- According to the 2012 National Survey of Organ Donation Attitudes and Behaviors, more than 64 percent of whites were more likely to check the box on their driver’s license allowing their vital organs to be removed and transplanted after they die, compared with just 39 percent of African-Americans. That percentage is lower than those of Asian/Pacific Islanders (56 percent) and Hispanics (44 percent).
- Those attitudes were borne out in data from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network: Of the more than 10,000 deceased people who donated organs in 2017, about 6,800 were white but just 1,600 were black. The disparity among living donors is even starker: 4,445 whites donated an organ last year, compared with 526 blacks.
- And of the 24,200 patients who have received transplants in 2018, 13,454 were white but just 4,944 were black, according to the OPTN.
- The numbers hint at a “lack of understanding of the process of living donation,” says Scantlebury, the transplant surgeon. But it’s also another sign of health issues in the African-American community – particularly since potential donors must be in good health before the transplant can proceed.
- “The existence of previous medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, often exclude many from being living donors,” Scantlebury says.
- “For many, it’s just not something they want to think about or discuss,” she says. “For others, they are fearful because of misinformation they may have received from others, the media or the internet.”
- Scantlebury continues: “Other reasons include lack of understanding and a general mistrust of the medical community and the inherent fear – which I still hear today – that the doctors (conducting the transplant) are less interested in saving the life of a patient if they are an organ donor,” she says.
Here are something’s we can do:
- Work with minority-health advocates and public health foundations to spread the word: Organ transplants are safe, surgeons are ethical, living donors almost always recover fully and recipients are grateful for a new lease on life.
- Help educate the importance of healthy living to our family and friends.
- Help make people more receptive to the idea of registering to donate their organs.
If you are not able to become an organ donor due to medical reasons, you can still encourage others the importance to donate and give the gift of life.
For more information, click on the link below.