The need for minority organ, tissue and eye donors remains critical
ITASCA, Ill. (August 8, 2023) – About 60% of more than 100,000 people waiting for life-saving organ transplants in the U.S. are from minority communities, yet minorities make up only about 30% of registered organ & tissue donors. In Illinois and Indiana more than 5,000 people are waiting—and nearly 60% are people of color.
Every August, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network joins the national donation community and advocates across the country to call attention to National Minority Donor Awareness Month. Now in its 27th year, the national observance recognizes the life-giving gifts of minority donors and their families, raises awareness about organ and tissue donation with facts and resources to encourage new donor registrations, and highlights the need for improved access to care.
Multiple health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease, kidney disease and heart disease as well as barriers to care disproportionately affect African American and Hispanic communities. When people don’t receive preventative care and early treatment, they become more likely to someday experience organ failure and require an organ transplant.
Organizations like The Illinois Transplant Fund (ITF) are working to provide equitable access to organ transplants by covering the cost of insurance premiums for eligible patients. Gift of Hope established the non-profit ITF in 2015. Funded through individual contributors and philanthropic funders, the ITF has helped more than 350 individuals to date receive life-saving organ transplants.
“Equality and equity are integral to our mission to save and enhance as many lives as possible through organ, tissue and eye donation,” said Harry Wilkins, MD, Gift of Hope President/CEO. “During National Minority Donor Awareness Month, we join communities to celebrate and honor minority donors and encourage everyone to get the facts about donation, register as a donor and talk with their family about their decision.”
While donated organs are not matched with recipients according to race or ethnicity, compatible blood types and tissue markers – critical qualities for donor and recipient matching – are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity. The chance of long-term survival for transplant recipients may be greater if the donor and recipient share a similar genetic background.
A greater diversity of registered donors can increase access to transplantation for those waiting for a second chance at life. One person can save up to eight lives as an organ donor, heal more than 25 lives as a tissue donor and restore sight in up to two people.
Offer hope to those waiting for a transplant:
- Learn more and register your decision to save lives at giftofhope.org. Discuss donation and your wish to leave a legacy with your family.
- Spread the word during National Minority Donor Awareness Month: Share information in your community, or on your website and social media. Visit giftofhope.org/minoritydonation for more information and downloadable materials.
About Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network
Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network 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 56 OPOs that make up the nation’s organ donation system, Gift of Hope works with 180 hospitals and serves 12 million people in its donation service area. Since 1986, its 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 giftofhope.org.