FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2011
Contact: HRSA Press Office
HHS honors 15th anniversary of National Minority Donor Awareness Day
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today joins with health advocates across the country in observing the 15th annual National Minority Donor Awareness Day. Minorities account for more than half of the 111,000-plus people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.
“By increasing awareness of the need for organ donation, minority communities across the nation will have the opportunity to take action,” said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield. “People on the waiting list are more likely to receive transplants if more people from all backgrounds donate.”
Currently, there are more than 32,500 African Americans, 20,000 Hispanic Americans, 7,500 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and 1,057 Native Americans on the waiting list for organs in the United States. In 2010, more than 4,450 individuals from these communities donated their organs.
Minorities are donating in proportion to their percentage in the population; however, their need is much greater due to high rates of diseases and conditions - such as diabetes and hypertension - that can result in organ failure. Many more donors from all backgrounds are critically needed to help all whose lives depend on a transplant.
To highlight Minority Donor Awareness Day, organizations will host outreach activities to provide information on the importance of donation to minority communities, honor donors, encourage donor registration, and promote healthful living and disease prevention to decrease the need for transplantation.
“Since we first celebrated National Minority Donor Awareness Day in 1996, the number of minority organ donors has increased nearly 125 percent,” noted HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, M.D., M.P.H. “This is exciting news for all Americans and represents an especially meaningful milestone for our nation’s minority communities. Today, we recommit to promoting donation in minority communities and saving lives.”
Some key facts about organ donation include:
- Most major religions in the United States support organ donation and view it as an act of kindness;
- Doctors will do everything they can to save a person’s life and the transplant team will be involved only when all efforts to save the individual’s life are exhausted;
- Factors such as blood and tissue type, severity of illness, time on waiting list, distance from donor, and body size are considered when matching donor organs to recipients and ethnicity, wealth, and fame are not part of the computerized matching program.
HRSA provides federal oversight and support for the nation’s organ donation and transplantation network. For more information, including how to register in your state to become an organ, eye, and tissue donor, please visit www.organdonor.gov.
The Health Resources and Services Administration is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HRSA is the primary Federal agency responsible for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. For more information about HRSA and its programs, visit www.hrsa.gov.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Follow HHS on Twitter @HHSgov and sign up for HHS Email Updates.
Follow HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Twitter @Sebelius .
Last revised: August 1, 2011