SWS - In observance of National Minority Donor Awareness Day, OneLegacy, the non-profit organ and tissue recovery agency serving the greater Los Angeles area, and Donate Life California, the administrators of the statewide organ and tissue donor registry, called attention to the 49,000 minority individuals that account for 51 percent of the United States transplant waiting list.
In California more than two-thirds of the 20,249 Californians waiting desperately for the gift of life are Latino, African American, or Asian/Pacific Islander, and more than 40 percent of those waiting are here in the Southland. In addition, there are nearly 100,000 people of all ages, races, and religions in desperate need of life-saving organ transplants that may not come in time. Hundreds of thousands more are in need of tissue transplants to restore their health, mobility, and sight.
"Every year there are over 28,000 donors of all ethnic backgrounds and races who save the lives of thousands of people and provide tissue for over a million people. Last year alone, more than 10,000 minorities received organ transplants," said Ralph D. Sutton, OneLegacyâ€™s African American Community Development Coordinator. "Making a decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor will help save thousands of lives that would otherwise be lost. To save these lives, the public is encouraged to visit www.donatelifecalifornia.org and determine the steps necessary to become a registered donor. The California organ and tissue registry is approaching the two million registration mark," he encouraged.
At the top of the list of minorities in need of organ transplants are African Americans followed by Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and people of Multiracial decent. African Americans alone account for 27 percent of people on the national waiting list and 35 percent of those waiting for kidneys.
Though only 20 percent of the U.S. population and 23 percent of donors are minorities, they make up 51 percent of the national transplant waiting list. The high percentage is due to the fact that many of the conditions leading to the need for a transplant, such as diabetes and hypertension, occur with greater frequency among these populations.
Meanwhile, advocacy groups like OneLegacy are still trying to blast myths surrounding organ donation, like the fact that hospitals will not save lives in order to harvest body parts.
"One of the biggest fears that people have about organ donation is that their death will be hastened if theyâ€™re identified as a donor," bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania told the Associated Press last week.
On August 3, prosecutors charged transplant surgeon Hootan Roozrokh, 33, on July 31, with prescribing massive amounts of drugs in an attempt to hasten the death of 25-year-old Ruben Navarro, who was physically and mentally disabled.
Navarroâ€™s organs were never retrieved because he did not die within the time when they would be viable for transplantation.
The case, believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S., "sent a chill through the transplant community," the AP reported.
Despite that incident, said said Jackie Hancock, president of the National Foundation for Transplants, "By and large, physicians are upholding their oath,"
National Minority Donor Awareness Day is observed annually to increase awareness of organ donation among African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Alaskan Native, Pacific Islander and Native American populations. The event also recognizes minority donors and their families. For more information visit www.onelegacy.org, to register visit www.donatelifecalifornia.org.