June 27, 2024

Donation Essentials Blog

Organ Transplant Among Multicultural Communities

June 27, 2024

Organ Transplant Among Multicultural Communities

Organ transplantation is a critical, lifesaving procedure that can be successful regardless of the  ethnicity of the donor and recipient. However, the chance of longer-term survival may be greater if the donor and recipient share a similar genetic background.

Does Race or Ethnicity Matter in Organ Transplantation?

When it comes to matching donor organs and tissues for transplantation, factors such as race, Organ Transplant Among Multicultural Communities ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, income, celebrity, and social status are never part of the consideration. Organs are matched with people on the national transplant waitlist based on blood type, body size, the severity of the illness, donor distance, tissue type, and time on the waiting list. Due to these factors, patients frequently and successfully receive transplants from donors of different races and ethnicities.

The Importance of Diversity in Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation

People of color are more likely to need a lifesaving transplant. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, African Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders are three times more likely than Caucasians to suffer from end-stage renal disease, often as a result of high blood pressure and other conditions. Although patients can find organ matches from donors of other ethnic groups, having a diverse donor pool makes it easier to find a match for all patients, highlighting the importance of organ transplant among multicultural communities.

Organ Donation Across Race & Ethnicity

The national transplant waiting list currently stands at more than 100,000 people, with more than 60% of those waiting representing multicultural communities.

The need for donation and transplantation is more pronounced in minority communities where disproportionately higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease contribute to organ failure, especially kidney failure. African Americans are three times more likely than White Americans to have kidney failure. Hispanics are also 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to have kidney failure.

On average, African American/Black transplant candidates wait longer than non-Black  transplant candidates for kidney, heart, and lung transplants. These healthcare disparities reinforce the need for more education and outreach to save and heal lives in our communities.

85% of People on the Waitlist Need a Kidney Transplant

Organ Transplant Among Multicultural Communities

Kidney disease can affect anyone, regardless of age, though certain groups face higher risks. High blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease significantly contribute to kidney disease, particularly among African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American communities. Knowing your risk factors for kidney disease is crucial for taking proactive steps toward a healthier life. Take a quick kidney risk quiz to assess your risk—it only takes a minute.

Every eight minutes, another person is added to the waitlist. One person’s decision to be an organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and save and heal up to 75 lives through tissue donation. Each year, tissue transplants benefit tens of thousands of people suffering from injury, disease, trauma or blindness.

Why Should I Register?

Shared ethnicity is not a requirement for matching organ donors and recipients. Matches between donors and recipients of different ethnicities are very common. However, a more diverse donor registry gives everyone on the transplant waitlist a better chance to find a good donor match. Because the genetic markers used to match organ donors and recipients are inherited, people with rare markers are more likely to match someone with a shared racial or ethnic background.

How Does Healthcare Access Play a Role?

Minority populations may have less access to healthcare than other Americans. For example, studies found that about one-third of Hispanics/Latinos, 20% of Blacks/African Americans, and one out of three American Indians and Alaska Natives were uninsured.

The costs associated with receiving a transplant vary based on many factors, including the type of transplant, necessary care, location, hospital, and the patient’s insurance coverage. It’s essential to work with the financial coordinator at your transplant center, your insurance provider, and, if applicable, your employee benefits team to develop a financial strategy and review available resources.

While you should always discuss with your insurance provider and financial coordinator how to cover the cost of your transplant, there are additional resources that can provide financial assistance to transplant candidates, recipients, and their families.

Hispanic Transplant Program

Donor Alliance had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Sixto Giusti, Director of the Hispanic Transplant Program at UCHealth. Dr. Giusti emphasized the importance of educating multicultural communities about the lifesaving benefits of organ and tissue donation. He also discusses the need for more diverse donors to improve transplant success rates and outcomes.

Watch the full interview

Register today to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor at DonateLifeColorado.org or DonateLifeWyoming.org.

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