National Minority Donor Awareness Week Q & A and Talking Points August 1, 2013 What is National Minority Donor Awareness Week and why is it important? National Minority Donor Awareness Week, celebrated annually on August 1-7, is a nationwide observance to educate minorities of the desperate need for donation and transplantation within the multicultural community and how to designate their decision to Donate LifeSM. Fifty-six percent of those on the national organ transplant waiting list are minorities. In 2012 11,309 minority patients received organ transplants; while there were 2,762 minority deceased donors and 1,711 minority living donors. In 2012, there were: o 5,590 Black organ transplant recipients and 1,980 Black donors. o 3,943 Hispanic organ transplant recipients and 1,836 Hispanic donors. o 1,393 Asian organ transplant recipients and 428 Asian donors. Why is it important for minorities to become donors? Ethnic minorities are in desperate need of more organ and tissue donors. There are more than 66,000 minority individuals [this number includes Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and people of multiracial decent] registered on the U.S. organ transplant waiting list. Minorities comprise 56 percent of individuals on the national organ transplant waiting list and 32 percent of living and deceased organ donors, while making up 36 percent of the U.S. population. Many of the conditions leading to the need for a transplant -- such as diabetes and hypertension -- occur with greater frequency among minority populations. Tragically, every 10 minutes another patient is added to the waiting list and 18 people die each day due to lack of organ donors. What prevents some minorities from registering as donors? Minorities, especially within the Black community, do not have organ, eye and tissue donation on their “radar” -- the issue is simply not top of mind. Most are not aware of the large number of minorities who are waiting for transplants. There is a perception that minorities do not have equal access to organs for transplantation. Some are afraid that they will not receive the best medical treatment in a lifethreatening emergency if they were a known “organ donor.” Often there is mistrust on the part of minorities of medical establishments and institutions. Does the church support organ, eye and tissue donation? Every major religion in the United States supports organ, eye and tissue donation as one of the highest expressions of compassion and generosity. Is there a greater need for any particular organ among minorities? Yes. Kidneys are at the top of the list. While 36 percent of the U.S. population is comprised of ethnic minorities, approximately 63 percent [this percentage includes, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and people of multiracial decent] of those waiting for kidney transplants are minorities. Currently, more than 57,000 minority individuals are waiting for kidney transplants. For these patients, the lack of available organs means longer waiting periods on transplant lists, more time spent on dialysis, and sometimes death. Why is the need for kidneys so high among minorities? Minorities are disproportionately affected by illnesses that can lead to end-stage renal disease and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. These diseases include high blood pressure [hypertension] and diabetes. How much does it cost to be a donor? There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate. Is it true that rich people and celebrities get preferential treatment when it comes to getting a donor organ? No. When you are on the transplant waiting list for a donor organ, what really counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type and other important medical information. One’s celebrity status does not play a part in the decision. The transplant waiting list is “blind” to ethnicity, gender, and connections. When a celebrity needs an organ, it tends to get more attention from the media, so it may seem like they are getting special consideration. However, they have been placed on the waiting list like everyone else. What are the benefits of being an organ, eye and tissue donor? According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, “successful transplantation often is enhanced by the matching of organs between members of the same ethnic and racial group. For example, any patient is less likely to reject a kidney if it is donated by an individual who is genetically similar. Generally, people are genetically more similar to people of their own ethnicity or race than to people of other races.” Knowing that you have the power to give someone else a chance to live a healthy productive life is the greatest gift of all. A single donor can save or heal the lives of more than 50 people. Donation is a consolation to the donor family knowing that their loved one helped to save and heal the lives of others. How can I become an organ, eye and tissue donor? Sign up in your state donor registry. For instructions, visit www.donatelife.net/register-now and click on your state. Always remember, it is important to tell your family members that you have decided to become a donor so that they will understand and support your decision. What is being done to increase the number of minority donors? Donate Life America created radio, television and print public service announcements to educate and urge more minorities to become organ, eye and tissue donors. Also, other initiatives spearheaded by member organizations are taking place throughout the nation such as: o Programs informing religious congregations about the need for donors o School programs to educate the youth o Presentations to civic organizations. What can I do to increase organ, eye and tissue donation in my community? Tell family and friends about your decision to Donate Life. Ask them to get the facts, and consider registering as a donor. Go to www.donatelife.net for tips and tools for educating members of your community about the lifesaving gift of organ, eye and tissue donation. These may include: o Placing articles in newsletters o Hanging posters around the community o Handing out brochures o Including flyers in church bulletins o Using www.donatelife.net web banners on your personal or organizational Website o Wearing Donate Life lapel pins, awareness band and other gear. What is Donate Life America and how is it funded? Founded in 1992, Donate Life America’s mission is to drive individuals, organizations and communities to increase the number of designated organ, eye and tissue donors who save and heal lives. Donate Life America is a not-for-profit alliance of national organizations and Donate Life State Teams across the United States funded through contributions from the public, corporations and affiliated organizations. Its vision is a nation that embraces organ, eye and tissue donation as a fundamental human responsibility.