Building awareness about the benefits of organ donation and transplantation
- Encouraging diverse communities to register as organ donors.
- Educating recipients about why it matters to share blood types and tissue.
- Addressing taboos about organ donation.
[3 MIN READ]
National Minority Donor Awareness Month is described by its organizers as a collaboration between national organizations to “save and improve the quality of life of diverse communities by creating a positive culture for organ, eye and tissue donation.”
In 1996, National Minority Donor Awareness Week was the first effort to heighten awareness about organ donation and transplantation in diverse communities. The week was recently extended to the whole month of August. The goal of the event is to:
- Highlight the need for organ donations within multicultural communities
- Provide education about donating
- Encourage donor registration
- Promote healthy living and disease prevention to reduce the need for transplants
Addressing the shortage of minority donors
There’s a serious shortage of transplants in Black, Asian, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander-American communities. This is noteworthy because minorities make up 57% of people who are on the organ waiting list. Minority patients have a greater need for transplants because many suffer from chronic conditions that affect the heart, kidney, pancreas and liver.
Minorities make up 57% of people who are on the organ waiting list.
Donation organizations focus on several factors when they’re matching donors to recipients. The most vital aspect is blood type. That’s because ethnic groups often have similar blood types. Success rates tend to be higher when recipients are paired within the same ethnic or racial group.
Still, it helps everyone who’s waiting for an organ transplant if there are large numbers of donors from their racial and ethnic background. The same blood types and tissue markers — which are vital qualities for matching donors and recipients — are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity. The more diverse donors are, the better chance all people have for transplantation.
The same blood types and tissue markers — which are vital qualities for matching donors and recipients — are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity.
People of all races and ethnicities are encouraged to donate because every organ can save a life.
Let’s talk taboos about organ donations
Many cultures have certain taboos and cultural barriers when it comes to organ donations. It’s important to understand and respect them, while at the same time seeking to engage communities to learn more about the positive impact organ donations can make.
For instance, Buddhists believe that once a person dies, they will have a second life only if that person has done good things and dies with the body intact — every part in place. Another common belief in the Chinese culture is that death only becomes final once the person stops breathing and the heart stops beating. So, ventilation, life supports and brain death are not easily accepted.
Blacks make up 28.7% of the total candidates who are now waiting for transplants, yet they made up just 12.5% of organ donors in 2019.
Black and Hispanic communities often report that they don’t trust certain medical authorities and therefore don’t want to register as organ donors. This fact becomes more pointed when looking at the numbers. For instance, Blacks make up 28.7% of the total candidates who are now waiting for transplants, yet they made up just 12.5% of organ donors in 2019.
Communication can change views about donation
Respect and compassion must guide communication with those who may be opposed to organ donations because of their taboos. When people can educate, engage, have family discussions and build awareness about its benefits, strides can be made. Older perspectives about donation can be gently challenged and ultimately lead to change.
What you can do to build awareness
Read more about organ donation then think about doing the following to support Minority Donor Awareness Month:
- Join a fundraiser in your community.
- Create an event through your workplace.
- Learn about different types of donations and share what you’ve learned with family members and friends.
- Become an organ donor yourself and share the news with others.
- Share your success story as a donor or recipient.
- Post your story or inspiring message on social media using #MinorityDonorAwarenessMonth
If you decide to register as a donor, tell your loved ones. It can provide comfort to surviving family members if they know in advance that you’ve decided to make your life a gift to others. At the same time, you may serve to knock down barriers that are keeping others from becoming donation heroes like you.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
About the AuthorMore Content by Swedish Wellness & Lifestyle Team