Minorities asked to donate lifesaving transplants
National Minority Donor Awareness Week begins Aug. 1 and will run through Aug. 7.
The event honors donors and their families, while also emphasizing the critical need for people from diverse communities to register their decision as organ, eye and tissue donors.
In Texas, nearly 13,000 people are waiting on a lifesaving transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, and countless others are waiting for lifesaving tissue transplants, including skin and heart valve donations.
Of those 13,000 Texans, more than 8,000 – or 70 percent – are minority patients.
“Multicultural communities are disproportionately affected by illnesses, such as hypertension and diabetes, which can lead to end-stage renal illness and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. This makes the need critical for more donations from people in those same communities,” said Kevin Myer, president and CEO of nonprofit organization LifeGift.
Established in 1987, LifeGift serves individuals needing transplants in Southeast, North and West Texas. A founding member of Donate Life Texas, the organization that runs the organ, eye and tissue donor registry, LifeGift services 10 transplant centers and 200 donor hospitals.
“Registering your decision to become an organ, eye and tissue donor is the most effective way to ensure you can save lives for all people and especially those with higher needs for transplantation,” Myer said.
Across the state, so far in 2016, there have been 241 deceased donors; 886 have received a transplant and there have been 128 living donors from minority backgrounds.
The wait is long, and every day, it is estimated that 22 people die because the transplant they so critically needed does not come in time. Across the country, more than 120,000 men, women and children are awaiting the gift of life and this does not include those waiting on gifts of donated tissue and corneas.
In Texas, people from all ethnic and cultural groups can donate electronically through the website www.donatelifetexas.org or when they renew or obtain their driver license at any Department of Public Safety office. They can also register to be a donor when applying for updated vehicle tags through the Department of Motor Vehicles online portal.
To register as a donor or for more information, visit www.donatelifetexas.org