NHM Health Focus: Minority Donation and Transplantation
National Minority Donor Awareness events promote healthy living and disease prevention as they underscore the need for people to sign donor cards and have discussions with their families about their wishes to become donors. Two public events, in Detroit and Washington, D.C., encourage people to come together to increase awareness of the need for more tissue and organ donations and to promote lifestyle changes that will reduce the need for such donations.
July 23, 2005 in Detroit, families and friends at Life Walk will share food, fun and the message that "one can extend life through organ and tissue donation one step, one run at a time."
August 1, 2005, in Washington, D.C. residents and visitors will celebrate National Minority Donor Awareness Day to increase awareness of the need for more tissue and organ donors and the need for life style changes that will reduce the need for such donations.
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) reports more than 89,000 individuals are awaiting organ transplants. Of these individuals, approximately half are African American, Hispanic, or Asian. More than 27,000 individuals will wait more than three years before an appropriate donor is found; many will die before an organ becomes available.
Health lifestyle choices have been shown to reduce the need for transplantation. Diabetes, high blood pressure, alcohol and substance abuse, poor nutrition and lack of exercise are among the behaviors and diseases that increase the need for transplantation. For more information on transplantation prevention please visit National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program
Other sources of transplantation prevention information include:
Decreasing the gap between the need for organs and number of organs available also depends upon increasing the number of donors, especially the number of minority donors. Individuals with similar ethnic backgrounds are more likely to have compatible tissue matches making donation and transplantation possible. Organ and tissue donation is a family decision. Potential donors are urged to make their wishes known in writing to the members of their family. It is easier for family members to carry out the wishes of a loved one if they know what those wishes are.
Education programs such those offered by the National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (National MOTTEP) have increased minority donations and transplantations, but more is needed to close the gap. It will be even better if the number of transplants needed can be reduced.
Related resources on Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum (AE@NHM) include: