April is National Donate Life Month, a wonderful opportunity to think about becoming an organ donor. It is also National Minority Health Month.
What do these two observances have in common? For starters, minorities have disproportionately high rates of certain conditions that can lead to kidney failure or other organ failure, including diabetes and hypertension. As a result, minorities also make up a disproportionally high percentage of patients on the national transplant waiting list. African Americans alone account for nearly 35 percent of those waiting for kidneys. Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders also have high rates of kidney disease.
But, there's another issue relevant for minorities: A compatible blood type is essential for matching donors to recipients. And since some blood types are more frequently found in certain ethnicities, those waiting for a transplant may be more likely to get an organ if there are increased numbers of donors of their same ethnicity.
There are nearly 114,000 people, more than enough to fill most football stadiums , on the national waiting list. They are hoping for a donated heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, or lung to save their lives . Last year, more than 6,600 people on the waiting list died before a donated organ could be found.
Minority Health Month is a perfect time to learn more about organ donation and to consider registering to be a donor on your state's donor registry. You can access your state's donor registry by visiting The Department of Health and Human Services organ donation website: http://www.organdonor.gov. All it takes is a few minutes. Sign up today for the opportunity to give the greatest gifts of all - hope and life.
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