Need for organ transplants—and donors—greatest among blacks

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: March 6th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Every day, about seventy-four people receive potentially life-saving organ transplants. However, nineteen people die each day waiting for transplants that can’t occur because of the shortage of donated organs.

African Americans have a particularly critical need for organ and tissue transplants. That’s because more blacks have serious medical conditions that can cause permanent organ damage. These conditions include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disorders.

More than one in every four people waiting for life-saving organ transplants is black. Yet only about twelve percent of donors are. Organs are matched by factors that can vary by race, including blood and tissue typing. So, patients are more likely to find matches among donors of their same race or ethnic group. That’s why it’s so important for blacks to consider organ donation.

A new survey finds that half of African Americans want their organs donated upon death. But too many have not talked to their families about it— a key step to becoming an organ donor.

A national group called The Links stages an annual campaign called “Linkages to Life” to raise awareness about organ donation in the African-American community. A survey by the group found that black families are twice as likely to donate family members’ organs upon their death if they know of their wishes to be an organ donor.

So, everybody, schedule time this week, today, for this crucial family conversation. It’s the first step to becoming an organ donor— and saving lives.