National Minority Donor Awareness Week, celebrated annually 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 register their decision to Donate Life. Approximately 64 percent of those on New York's transplant waiting list are minorities. While people of all ages and ethnicities can save and enhance lives through donation, organs are matched to recipients by a variety of factors—such as blood and tissue type—which can vary by race and ethnicity. While skin color is not a barrier when it comes to organ donations and transplants, the odds of a transplant being successful are much greater when a minority recipient receives an organ from a minority donor.
Why are minority donors needed?
People of most races and ethnicities in the U.S. donate in proportion to their representation in the population. The need for transplant in some groups, however, is disproportionately high, frequently due to a high incidence of conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, both of which can lead to the need for a kidney transplant.
For example, African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics/Latinos are three times more likely than Caucasians to suffer from end-stage renal (kidney) disease, often as the result of high blood pressure and other conditions that can damage the kidneys. Over 39 percent of the 8,681 people on New York's waiting list for a kidney transplant are African American.
Although organs are not matched according to race/ethnicity, and people of different races frequently match one another, all individuals waiting for an organ transplant will have a better chance of receiving one if there are large numbers of donors from their racial/ethnic background. This is because compatible blood types and tissue markers—critical qualities for donor/recipient matching—are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity. A greater diversity of donors may potentially increase access to transplantation for everyone.
New York State Statistics:
-In New York State, over 10,500 people are waiting for organ transplants. Over 6,700 or approximately 64% of those waiting are minorities.
-6,713 minority patients are currently registered on New York State's transplant waiting list - 3,644 African Americans, 2,035 Hispanics, 950 Asians and 84 Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and individuals of multiracial descent. That represents 64 percent of the 10,510 individuals waiting.
-In New York State in 2013, 875 minority patients received organ transplants; while there were 159 minority deceased donors and 185 minority living donors.
-Minorities make up 43% of the New York State population and comprise 64% of individuals on New York's transplant waiting list. Minorities represent 40% of living and deceased organ donors in New York State in 2013.
-Of the 3,644 African Americans on NY's transplant waiting list, nearly 94% are waiting for a kidney.
-African Americans make up the largest group of minorities in need of an organ transplant. African Americans have higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure than Caucasians, conditions which put people at risk for organ failure.
-Of the 2,035 Hispanics/Latinos on the transplant waiting list, nearly 81% are waiting for a kidney.
-Hispanics/Latinos have high rates of diabetes and heart disease. Mexican Americans in particular suffer disproportionately from obesity, which contributes to diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. These conditions put people at risk for organ failure.
-Of the 950 Asians on the transplant waiting list, nearly 85% are waiting for a kidney.
-Asian Americans are twice as likely to develop kidney failure as Caucasian Americans. Asians also suffer significantly from liver disease and hepatitis, conditions known to put patients at risk for organ failure.
-Of the 27 American Indian and Alaska Natives on the transplant waiting list, 96% are waiting for a kidney.
-Although Native Americans make up just 1 percent of New York's population, they have the highest rate of diabetes in the world and one of the highest rates of end stage renal disease (ESRD).
-Of the 9 Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders on the transplant list, 77% are waiting for a kidney.
-Native Hawaiians are nearly six times as likely as Caucasians living in Hawaii to die from diabetes. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are also seven times more likely than Caucasians to be diagnosed with chronic liver disease which puts patients at risk for organ failure. Pacific Islanders are five times more likely than Caucasians to be on the organ transplant waiting list.