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Organ Donation and Transplantation: We’re All Needed

Summary: 
Organ transplant science is advancing, but untreated chronic conditions can put minorities at higher risk for organ failure.

As the Nation’s Doctor, one of my priorities is to promote and improve the health of all Americans. Organ donations are an important piece of that puzzle – giving us all the chance to give the gift of life.

Did you know that certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can put a person at increased risk for organ failure, especially kidney and heart failure? Minorities, including Black and Hispanic Americans, suffer higher rates of these conditions and are less likely to experience optimal levels of control.

That’s one reason why minorities make up nearly six out of 10 people on the national waiting list for lifesaving organ transplants. Organs are in short supply, jeopardizing the lives and livelihoods of individuals across the country.

In fact, 20 people die each day, waiting for a transplant that doesn’t arrive in time.

This month marks National Minority Donor Awareness Month, giving us all an opportunity to raise awareness. Advancements in transplant science and organ procurement are making a difference. Still, one of the best ways to accelerate the return to good health for all Americans awaiting a transplant—people of every race/ethnicity, gender and age—is for every adult to register as an organ, eye, and tissue donor.

Here’s why that can make such a difference. When an organ becomes available, it is matched to a recipient depending on blood type, body size, tissue type, and other factors—not by race, ethnicity or gender.

The success of a transplant is often greater when organs are matched between people of the same racial or ethnic background, who may have more compatible blood and tissue types. So, the more of us who register, the better the chance that those on the waiting list will find the right match. A great diversity of donors has the potential to improve both access and outcomes for everyone!

The good news is that the number of registering donors is increasing. Today, more than 60 percent of U.S. adults are registered as organ, eye, and tissue donors. Sixty percent is good, but we can do better.

Join me in helping end the wait for the men, women, and children across the country. Signing up is easy. Learn more and register online in minutes at organdonor.gov. There is no greater gift and no better time than now.

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