National Minority Donor Awareness week, August 1-8, is a nationally observance to educate minorities on the desperate need for donation and transplantation. With more than half of Maryland’s transplant waitlist made up of multicultural populations, The Living Legacy Foundation is taking this week as an opportunity to empower and motivate these communities in to action.
There are many reasons minorities are the most in need. African Americans, Latinos and Asian Pacific Americans are three times more likely to suffer from end-stage renal disease than Caucasians resulting in the need for a kidney transplant. In 2012, 40 percent of those receiving transplants in the United States were minorities and 70 percent of minority transplant recipients received kidneys.* Unfortunately, in 2012, only 32 percent of minorities were designated donors in Maryland. It’s obvious our message is more important than ever.
Although it is possible for a transplant candidate to match a donor from another racial or ethnic group, transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic background. Therefore, the shortage of organs donated by minorities’ results in a longer wait for those in need. The Living Legacy Foundation recognizes these facts, and has developed specific events aimed at educating the community such as GospelFest and National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.
At GospelFest, we celebrate through music bringing different singing groups together to help celebrate and share the message of life through organ, eye, and tissue donation. We also invite donor families and recipients to share their stories. Each year, GospelFest is held in a different church in Baltimore City. We hope this faith outreach celebration encourages minorities to share their personal connection to donation and inspire others to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor.
During National Hispanic Heritage Month this year, The LLF will be working with local Mexican restaurants to become involved in raising awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation with informative table tents to be placed in participating restaurants to make the Hispanic community aware of our cause.
Also, in partnership with the Baltimore City Police Department, The LLF participates in city events called Day of Hope, which aims to bring, hope to people less fortunate in the community. During these events, The LLF works alongside other non-profit community partners to offer resources such as healthcare, nutrition, personal grooming and city programs to help them with living expenses. We take this opportunity to inform the community about essential donation facts.
Locally, there are more than 2,600 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant in Maryland and of those 1,409 are minorities. It is important to remember organ donation is a selfless act which costs nothing to the donor or the family. One person has the potential to save nine lives, enhance the lives of 50 people and restore sight for two people. Donation is supported by all major religions as one of the highest expressions of compassion and generosity. No one is ever too old to give the gift of life, it’s something we all have the ability to do. Together we can all give someone a second chance.
For more information on the donation process and myths and misconceptions, please visit www.thellf.org
To register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, visit www.donatelifemaryland.org.