Blacks are the largest minority group in need of organ transplants according to the latest organ donor statistics. According to Organdonor.gov, 30 percent of people currently waiting for an organ donation are African American. We make up 34 percent of the people waiting for a kidney transplant and 25 percent of those waiting for a heart.
The Organdonor.gov website points out that organs are not matched according to race or ethnicity. People of different races can and do match one another. But minorities have a better chance of a receiving the needed organ with a larger pool of organ donors from their racial or ethnic background. Medical experts say that the matching blood types and tissue markers are more likely found among members of the same ethnicity. These qualities are critical for donor/recipient matching.
The need for organ donors is great in our community but Black people tend not to be organ donors. Why?
African-Americans seem to be caught a Catch-22 situation. Blacks suffer more from the illnesses that cause organ failure and likewise, aren’t prime candidates for donation. A 2014 study from the American Society of Nephrology revealed that preventable health conditions among Black people, and Americans in general, prohibit organ donations. These include obesity, alcoholism, diabetes, skin cancer, high blood pressure, HIV and coronary artery disease.