Become an Organ Donor
August 1st is National Minority Donor Awareness Day (NMDA). Organ, tissue, and eye transplants save over 40,000 lives in the United States yearly, and donors provide the organs, corneas, and tissues. But why seek minority donors? Greater diversity among organ donors helps everyone.
People will typically have a better probability of matching with someone from a similar racial or ethnic background, even though organ matching is not based on race and ethnicity. The explanation is that individuals belonging to the same ethnic group are more likely to have compatible blood types, and tissue markers used to determine a match.
The purpose of NMDA is to honor and promote organ donation among racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States. NMDA’s goal is to inspire members of underrepresented groups to sign up as organ donors and to tell their loved ones about their decision. The NMDA established the National Donor Sibling Registry (NDSR) in 2004.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared NMDA a designated observance day in 2013.
Nursa is contributing to raising minority organ donor awareness and honoring all donors.
Krizia registered to be an organ donor while getting her driver’s license, and that night at dinner, she told her mother about her decision. Just a year later, Krizia suffered a brain aneurysm, passing away on June 6th, 2013.
At the hospital, the last thing on her mother’s mind was Krizia’s desire to be an organ donor. She said no, but one of the representatives from the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA) lovingly told the family about the whole process and reminded them of Krizia’s decision.
And with 22,000 Hispanic people on the waiting list, Krizia’s background was a great addition. Indeed, her donated kidney and pancreas gave a second chance at life to a Hispanic man who had complications with diabetes, and her mother had the pleasure of meeting him.
Senior Communication Coordinator at TOSA, Clarissa Thompson, said that for August, the National Minority Donor Awareness Month, they focused on the people of color on the waiting list.
Thompson explained that although the donor and the recipient do not have to share the same ethnicity, studies show that transplants have a higher success rate when the donors and the recipients share similar genetics.
People of color, like Krizia, only make up about 32% of the donor list but over 60% of the waiting list. Thompson chalked that up to the fears that surround becoming an organ donor.
Although Krizia left this life very young, her mother felt her daughter had completed her mission, to give the gift of life.
So, Why Not Become an Organ Donor? Fears and Facts:
Fear: Hospital staff could be more interested in obtaining the organs than saving the donor’s life.
Fact: When a patient goes to the hospital for treatment, the doctors focus on saving the patient’s life — not somebody else’s, and will be the specialists needed to protect the donor patient.
Fear: Maybe the donor won’t be dead when they sign the death certificate.
Fact: People who have registered for organ donation are tested more thoroughly to determine that they are dead.
Fear: Too young or old, or not in good enough health.
Fact: Although many states permit those under 18 to register as organ donors, the final decision to do so will ultimately rest with the parents or legal guardians. There is no age limit. Remember that children can also benefit from organ transplants, though typically, they require smaller organs than an adult can donate. Let the doctors decide whether the donors’ organs, eyes, and tissues are fit for transplants.
Fear: Mutilation of the body, religious objections.
Fact: No organ or tissue donation signs are seen because the donor’s body is clothed for burial and treated with care and respect. Krizia’s family held an open casket funeral and her mother said, “She looked as beautiful as she always did.”
The teachings of most major religions, including Roman Catholicism, Islam, the majority of Jewish sects, and most Protestant faiths, favor organ donation. However, consult with a clergy member to dispel doubts and clarify the principles and values involved.
Fear: Rich and famous or influential people will be favored in allocating donor organs.
Fact: The powerful do not get any special attention when it comes down to allocating organs. It may seem so due to their publicity, but celebrity and financial status are not considered in organ allocation.
It is illegal in all states to buy or sell donor organs.
Fear: The family will face expenses for organ donation.
Fact: The transplant recipient pays for organ removal costs. However, expenses to save the donor’s life are paid for by the family; sometimes, these expenses can be mistaken for organ donation expenses.
How Many Lives Can One Organ Donor Rescue?
Each kidney can be allocated separately, freeing two patients from dialysis. The liver can be divided and get two patients off the waiting list. The two lungs can also be transplanted to two different people, and the pancreas and the heart can go to two more people. Add that up; it’s eight! Just one deceased organ donor can save up to eight lives!
With corneal (eye) transplants to restore vision or tissue transplants to recover from burns, prevent amputations or reduce pain, donors also transform as many as 75 lives.
Be a hero. Become a living donor—register to rescue lives.