National Minority Donor Awareness Month has been developed to call attention to the health disparities that contribute to the need for organ transplants and to help alleviate the large number of minorities who are waiting for lifesaving organs in this country.
“One Voice, One Vision...To Save and Heal Lives” is a unifying theme that addresses the number one problem in transplantation: the gap between the demand for organ transplants and supply of donated organs. The waiting list currently stands at more than 100,000 with more than 58% representing racial and ethnic minorities, with the percentage closer to 63% in Louisiana.
“African American’s are disproportionately at risk for diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease,” said Cheryl McGee-Hills, Community Educator with LOPA, “which hurt the kidneys and often create the need for dialysis. So it is critical for the black community to recognize their health risks and have the conversation about organ donation.”
On average, African American/Black transplant candidates wait longer than White transplant candidates for kidney, heart and lung transplants. These healthcare disparities are part of the need for National Minority Donor Awareness Month education and outreach to help heal and save lives in our communities.
“LOPA’s outreach efforts to provide donation education, encourage donor registration, and promote healthy living are free to the community. Special programming for National Minority Donor Awareness Month includes a special edition of our Gifted Life Podcast, volunteer training social media campaign. We have adapted several of our presentations to and online formats to keep the public safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” McGee-Hills said.
Despite a record number of nearly 40,000 people (including more than 18,000 racial and ethnic minorities) who received the gift of life in 2019, the gap remains staggeringly high. On average, 20 people die every day waiting for a transplant.
National Minority Donor Awareness Week began over 20 years ago out of the need to bring a heightened awareness to donation and transplantation in minority communities. This is the first year that the celebration will last throughout the month of August.
LOPA was established in April 1988 as the only federally designated, not-for-profit organ and tissue recovery agency for the state of Louisiana. LOPA recovers donated organs and tissues, places them for transplant, and offers support for families throughout the entire donation process. The agency manages the Louisiana Donor Registry, a database of individuals who have registered to become organ, tissue and eye donors. LOPA plays a vital role in educating Louisianians about donation. By partnering with Louisiana eye banks, universities and hospitals, LOPA broadens the impact of its core purpose of MAKING LIFE HAPPEN. LOPA also produces The Gifted Life Podcast (thegiftedlife.org). If you are interested in learning more, or would like someone from LOPA contact you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.