National Hispanic Heritage Month: Recognizing the Importance of Organ Donation

In the United States, it’s common for months to be designated for certain heritages and awareness issues. September 15th through October 15th has been designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month. Throughout the month, many cities and towns throw celebrations to recognize the importance of Hispanics in their communities.

It’s a time of cultural celebration and the American Transplant Foundation is joining in! Our Foundation is dedicated to educating the public about the gap between the critical need for transplant organs and their supply, especially amongst ethnic minorities.

While recognizing National Hispanic Heritage Month, it also is important to note that Hispanic Americans have high rates of diabetes and heart disease, which in the most serious cases, can lead to the need for a kidney or heart transplant. In 2011, about 18% of the total candidates waiting for transplants were Hispanic American. Only 13.4% of Hispanic Americans were organ donors.

When dealing with transplants, it is very important to make sure the donor and the transplant recipient share commonalities. Those commonalities include blood type, ethnic heritage, body build, and other more specific blood identifiers. In order to prevent organ rejection, it is always preferable for the donor and the recipient to have the same heritage.

Since nearly one-fifth of patients on the waiting list are of Hispanic heritage, it is critical that we work to increase the number of Hispanic American donors. In order to make that happen, there is a need for more awareness of organ donation within this population. With minorities being one of the larger groups in need of organ transplants, it is imperative that minority groups work to increase the number of organ donors.

Being National Hispanic Heritage month, there is no better time than now to raise awareness in your community, among your friends, and within your state about the importance of organ donation and how you can help. Start sharing, it’s never too late to save a life!

This month, learn more about giving the Gift of Life through living donation, how to become a registered organ donor. or perhaps take some time to read On the List, a story about two families, American power brokers and Guatemalan refugees, that came together in the waiting room of a Denver hospital to await kidney transplants for loved ones.

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