There is no time like the present to help celebrate Black History Month by signing up to become an organ donor and making the commitment to give back. New York State has the 3rd lowest rate of donation in the country, while at the same time having the 3rd highest number of people waiting for a life saving transplant on the waiting list. Many people would be surprised to learn that African Americans make up a great amount of those waiting.
The need for life saving organ transplants in African Americans is often due to the rate of high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes and heart disease among those of African American descent. Although African American’s make up a great amount of the population waiting for a life saving organ, many African American’s are reluctant to sign up to become an organ donor themselves. Because of this many African Americans may have to wait longer to receive a life saving transplant, getting sicker over time and possibly even dying waiting for the organs they need.
It is beneficial for African Americans to receive organs from their own ethnicity because certain blood types are more prevalent in African Americans such as O+ and A+. Matching blood types is necessary for transplantation and therefore the need for African American organ donors is especially high. Receiving an organ from another member of the African American community also results in less chance of organ rejection.
It is up to us to help close the gap between the number of African Americans needing a life saving organ transplant and the number of African American donors currently enrolled in the organ donor registry. Signup for the New York State Donate Life Registry now by visiting unyts.org today!
Alonzo Mourning – NBA All-Star and Kidney Transplant Recipient
Former Miami Heat star and recent star of the New Jersey Nets, Alonzo Mourning took a giant step against kidney disease on Friday, December 19, 2003 when he underwent a kidney transplant at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. Mark A. Hardy, MD, Auchincloss Professor of Surgery at Columbia, performed the transplant. Mr. Mourning was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis in October 2000. The disease affects the filters of the kidney that remove toxins from the blood.
A kidney transplant functions at its best as a very effective treatment of renal disease, allowing the patient to function normally with few dietary restrictions, minor physical limitations and continued maintenance on medications. In regards to the success of Mr. Mourning’s transplant, Dr. Hardy says, “I am very optimistic that Mr. Mourning’s transplanted kidney will function well for a long time. And I look forward to Mr. Mourning’s increased activities in promulgating organ donation to the American public, which I expect to be highly productive and beneficial to the many patients waiting for organs on the transplantation lists.” (Department of Surgery)
Alonzo Mourning for Organ Donation VIDEO (Organdonor.gov)
Sources: Us Department of Health and Human Services, The Office of Minority Health, Department of Surgery, Organdonor.gov