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 56 percent of those on the U.S. transplant waiting list are minorities.
In 2012, 11,309 minority patients nationwide received organ transplants; while there were 2,762 minority deceased donors and 1,711 minority living donors. In New York State in 2012, 1,802 minority patients received organ transplants; while there were 156 minority deceased donors and 170 minority living donors. 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.
Although most ethnic groups donate in proportion to their percent of the U.S. population, the need for transplants in some groups is disproportionately high. Asians, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and African Americans are more likely than Caucasians to suffer from end-stage renal (kidney) disease, often as the result of high blood pressure, diabetes, and other conditions that can damage the kidneys. This leads to an increased need for kidney transplants.
- More than 66,000 minority patients are currently registered on the U.S. organ transplant waiting list.
- In New York State, over 10,000 people are waiting for organ transplants. Almost 6,500 or approximately 65% of these are minorities.
- Minorities make up 36% of the U.S. population and comprise 56% of individuals on the U.S. transplant waiting list. They represent 32% of living and deceased organ donors.
- Of the 33,573 African Americans on the 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 20,672 Hispanics/Latinos on the transplant waiting list, 85% 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 7,411 Asians on the transplant waiting list, 89% are waiting for a kidney.
- Asians suffer significantly from liver disease and hepatitis, conditions known to put patients at risk for organ failure.
- Of the 542 Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders on the transplant list, 93% 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.