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National Minority Organ Donation Week

Many of us initially consider organ donation at the DMV. It becomes a box that merely receives a check of "yes" or "no." Few of us reflects on how our body could benefit someone or many others. Considering the value of donation, greater public discussion is critical. The need for organ donations, particularly from minorities, is so great that this week, August 1st thru August 7th, marks the 18th year of National Minority Donor Week.

Statistics regarding the needs for organ donation are staggering. Just a few from the United Network for Organ Sharing include:

  • A new name is added to the national transplant list every 10 minutes.

  • Every day 22 people die waiting for a transplant.

  • Even if you are listed as a donor on your drivers' license, it is important that your family is aware of your request.

  • One organ donor can benefit between 8 and 50 lives.

Minorities, including African Americans, Hispanics and Asians, make up more than half of the transplant lists, despite comprising less than 40% of the U.S. population. Due to environmental, dietary and cultural variables, minorities are disproportionately impacted by conditions that may weaken organs such as the kidneys, liver or lungs.

In a thoughtful piece in ThinkProgress, Sam P.K. Collins considers the roles of culture, history along with financial factors that hinder minority organ donation. Concerns range from faith to past medical experiments on People of Color.

In spite of the caution, facts that transcend cultural resistance have the potential to increase minority donation. Hopefully, a few of the facts from Donate Life America can motivate more of us to give the gift of life:

  • Each major U.S. faith community recognizes and supports tissue, eye and organ donation as a significant display of giving and generosity.

  • A donor’s family or estate does not incur expense for donation.

  • Open casket funerals are still possible after donating tissue, eyes or organs.

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