For immediate release
August 2, 2021

Kim McCullough

Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network

The need for minority organ, eye and tissue donors is critical

Gift of Hope honors the life-saving gifts of minority donors and shares facts and resources during National Minority Donor Awareness Month

ITASCA, Ill. – Nearly 60% of the more than 100,000 men, women and children waiting for life-saving organ transplants in the U.S. are from minority communities, but minorities make up only about 30% of registered donors. In Illinois, nearly 4,000 people are waiting—and more than 60% are people of color.

August marks the nation’s 25th observance of National Minority Donor Awareness Month, dedicated to honoring the life-giving gifts of minority donors and empowering communities of color to make informed healthcare decisions, including registering as organ, eye and tissue donors.

Throughout August, Illinois and northwest Indiana communities and advocates are working with Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network to honor organ, eye and tissue donors and their families, and to promote preventive care that can reduce the need for organ transplants in communities of color.

City light pole banners that honor donors and their families are going up in Chicago’s Little Village and Austin neighborhoods, Peoria, and Springfield. At Chicago’s Black Women’s Expo August 20-22, Gift of Hope President and CEO Harry Wilkins, MD, will join Northwestern Medicine transplant surgeon Dinee Simpson, MD, to discuss health disparities, impact and solutions for communities of color. Wilkins and Simpson will join Pastor Chris Harris of Bright Star Church in Chicago’s Bronzeville community for a similar discussion for Northwestern Medicine’s Clergy & Clinicians health education series.

Gift of Hope is also promoting social media campaigns, blog posts and a campaign toolkit at for any organization, family or individuals to promote donation education and encourage donor registration.

“Equality and equity are vitally important to us, and to Gift of Hope’s work and mission to save and enhance the lives of as many people as possible through organ, eye and tissue donation,” Wilkins said. “National Minority Donor Awareness Month provides an important opportunity to bring the community together to help save lives by honoring the legacies of minority donors, celebrating communities of color and providing facts and resources to help build trust and break down barriers.”

A variety of health conditions disproportionately affect minority communities, including chronic kidney disease. These illnesses can lead to the need for organ transplants. Although transplants can be successful regardless of the race or ethnicity of the donor and recipient, the chance of longer-term survival may be greater if the donor and recipient share a similar genetic background. To give everyone waiting for organ transplants better opportunities for a second chance at life, it is critical for minorities to register as donors.

To learn more about donation and offer hope to those waiting for a transplant:

  • Learn the facts about organ, eye and tissue donation at org.
  • Register your decision to save and heal lives as a donor at ly/GOHRegister or by texting HOPE to 51555. Remember to share your wishes with family and friends.
  • Join us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram as we honor donors, donor families and caregivers, recipients, registered donors, clinical teams and those waiting for a second chance at life.

About Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network

Gift of Hope is the not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) that coordinates organ and tissue donation and provides public education on donation in Illinois and northwest Indiana. As one of 58 OPOs that make up the nation’s donation system, we work with 180 hospitals and serve 12 million people in our donation service area. Since 1986, our work has saved the lives of more than 23,000 organ transplant recipients and improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of tissue transplant recipients. For more information, visit