By Lauren Zimmerman - Web Producer | KTSM News Channel 9 New Mexico
Nationally, 55 percent of the 110,000 patients on the organ waiting list are minorities, while 68 percent of the 709 New Mexicans on the waiting list are minorities.
National Minority Donor Awareness Day observed on August 1st is a nationwide opportunity to educate minorities of the desperate need to save lives through organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation within multicultural communities.
The need for organ transplants within Hispanic, Native American, African American and Asian communities is greater because of diseases which are more prevalent in minority populations, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and hepatitis. Although an organ transplant candidate may receive a match from someone of another racial or ethnic group, transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic background.
The lack of organs donated by minorities contributes to longer waiting periods for transplantation, for example, kidney transplant have an average wait of three to five years. Most multicultural communities are not aware of the large number of minorities awaiting transplants. There are some misconceptions that prevent minorities from registering as donors, including the perception that minorities do not have equal access to transplants, that their religion will not support donation or that they will not receive the best medical care in a life-threatening emergency if they were a known “organ donor”.
“We encourage multicultural communities in New Mexico to learn more about life-saving donations and the tremendous need in our state. We ask that every New Mexican register to be an organ donor on their driver’s license or online at www.NMdonor.org, and share their decision with family members” said Patricia Niles, CEO of New Mexico Donor Services.