MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – People of African American/Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, and multiracial descent currently make up 60 percent of the individuals on the national organ transplant waiting list. The WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance, the state’s first and only multi-organ transplant center, is encouraging people of those backgrounds to learn more about organ, eye, and tissue donation.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, African Americans/Blacks suffer from kidney failure at a significantly higher rate than Whites — four times higher. African Americans/Blacks represent 13.2 percent of the overall U.S. population and more than 35 percent of all patients in the U.S. receiving dialysis for kidney failure.
“Transplants can be successful regardless of the ethnicity of the donor and recipient. However, transplantation is not possible without donors,” Michael Shullo, Pharm.D., WVU Medicine associate vice president of transplant services, said. “We want all people – regardless of their background – to educate themselves on the importance of donation and to register as donors.”
National Minority Donor Awareness Month is a collaborative initiative of the National Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation Multicultural Action Group to save and improve the quality of life of diverse communities by creating a positive culture for organ, eye, and tissue donation.
National Minority Donor Awareness Month stems from National Minority Donor Awareness Week, founded in 1996 by the National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) to bring heightened awareness to donation and transplantation in multicultural communities – focusing primarily on African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native communities.
In addition to MOTTEP, the National Multicultural Action Group includes the Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation, the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, Donate Life America, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the National Kidney Foundation.
In 2019, nearly 40,000 transplants brought renewed life to patients and their families and
communities (from nearly 11,900 deceased and nearly 7,400 living donors). More than 113,000 men, women and children await lifesaving organ transplants. Another person is added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list every 10 minutes.