Organ donation is important, especially for people of color

Thousands+of+people+of+color+need+new+organs.

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Thousands of people of color need new organs.

By Angelina Padilla-Tompkins, Opinion Columnist

With August being National Minority Donor Awareness Month, Secretary of State Jesse White calls for individuals to seek education and urges them to become organ donors. 

“I encourage everyone to register to become an organ/tissue donor to help give those who are in need of the gift of life,” said White in an Aug. 1 press release.  

Choosing to become an organ donor is an important decision that can impact the lives of many individuals and their families. 

Additionally, it’s especially important for minority groups to research and consider being donors because there are many different ethnic groups in need.

There are thousands of people of color in need of new organs. The national waiting list is made up of 60% of patients from communities of color, while 72% of donors are white, according to VCU Health.

“The comparable blood types and tissue markers — critical qualities for donor/recipient matching — are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity,” according to the Gift of Life Donor Program. “A greater diversity of donors may potentially increase access to transplantation for everyone.” 

While organs are not matched by race or ethnicity, those who are on the waiting list for an organ will have a greater chance of receiving what they need from those of a similar racial and ethnic background. 

“Committing to be an organ donor is a generous decision that can save the lives of up to eight individuals,” according to the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

If you are not already a donor, I urge you to consider becoming one, especially if you are a part of a minority community.

The idea of donating your organs can be a daunting one. When I was sixteen, at the DMV excited to receive my driver’s license, I found myself caught off guard when the lady behind the counter asked me if I wanted to be an organ donor. For some reason I was startled by the question. I felt unprepared and uneducated on the subject, so I panicked and said no. 

In hindsight, I am glad I said no simply because I didn’t know enough about organ donation at the time. I have gladly switched my answer in support of donation.