Did you know that over 60% of the people waiting for a new organ are minorities? Or that one individual donor can heal over 75 people with just their tissue?
Minority organ donation statistics are surprising. For example, nearly 20,000 people of color received organ donations in 2021. Just one-third of those organs came from minorities.
In discussions about organ donation, the truth is often mirky. “I’d like to help, but it’s against my religion,” or “My body is too old.” These statements are not true. That’s why minorities should be concerned about organ donation myths.
Let’s look at some of them, and get to the facts:
- My doctor won’t give me life-saving treatment if I sign up to be a donor. Physicians and other healthcare professionals take the Hippocratic Oath to “first, do no harm.” This includes the lives of donors. Preservation of life is the whole reason that organ and body donation exist.
- My health isn’t good, so I can’t donate. Very few medical conditions screen you out as a donor. Regardless of your overall health, certain organs may be healthy and a match to someone on the waiting list.
- I’m too old to donate. Doctors evaluate each potential donor on a case-by-case basis using strict criteria. There is no set age limit for organ or tissue donation.
- It’s expensive and my family will incur charges. The recipient covers the costs for organ removal.
- My religion is against donation. This final act of selfless, generosity illustrates the principals of faith for many religions. Speak with your spiritual leader about your faith’s views. Many leave this very personal decision up to the individual.
- Organ donation will make it hard for my children to grieve my passing. Knowing you are helping sustain someone else’s life can actually help loved ones process their loss.
Does race matter in organ donation?
It does. More diversity in the donor pool helps everyone. “Compatible blood types and tissue markers—critical qualities for donor and recipient matching—are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity,” according to organ donation organization LifeSource.
August is National Minority Donor Awareness Month, a time for us to tune in to the goals and truths of organ donation in ethnic groups. The goal: to save and improve life in diverse communities through a positive culture for organ donation. The truth that must be changed: an estimated 17 U.S. residents die every day while waiting for an organ transplant.
This month, pull out your license to check if you’ve signed up as a donor yet. Ask yourself if any of the myths you’ve discovered have given you pause. If yes, you can help others receive a second chance of life by deciding that organ donation is for you.