April 05, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Patient Education Public Health
In honor of Donate Life month, the California Medical Association (CMA) and the CMA Foundation are encouraging physicians to talk to their patients about the importance of organ and tissue donation, particularly in underserved ethnic communities.
Currently, more than 117,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants in the United States, more than half of those being multicultural patients. That’s because some diseases of the kidney, heart, lung, pancreas and liver that are best treated through transplantation are found more frequently in these populations. For example, African Americans and other minorities are three times more likely to suffer from end-stage renal disease than Caucasians.
Although it is possible for a candidate to match a donor from another racial or ethnic group, transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic background. Consequently, a lack of organs donated by multicultural populations can contribute to longer waiting periods for transplantation. Sadly, due to a lack of donors, many will die waiting for a life-saving transplant.
In California, 21,000 patients are currently waiting for a second chance at life. Latinos make up 38 percent of those waiting for life-saving transplants; Asians/Pacific Islanders, 18 percent; and African Americans another 13 percent. Nearly 76 percent of those waiting for a kidney transplant are people of color. Nationwide, African Americans comprise 12 percent of the total population, but represent 34 percent of kidney transplant candidates. Eighteen patients in California die every day waiting for a transplant.
What you can do:Visit the Donate Life California website, www.donatelifecalifornia.org and sign up to become a donor yourself, if you haven't already done so. If you already registered via the Department of Motor Vehicles, you can also access/update your registry data.Educate patients about the benefits of becoming a donor. Talk to them about the lifesaving importance of organ and tissue donation and encourage them to register to become an organ donor at www.donatelifecalifornia.org. Flyers and posters are available for download under "Ways to Help > Spread the Word."
Donate Life California is the state authorized nonprofit organization responsible for managing California's Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. The registry is a confidential database of donation wishes to be carried out at the time of death.
Visit www.donatelifecalifornia.org for more information on how you can get involved.