Wanted: More African American Kidney Donors

Kelvin Saunders

Kelvin Saunders with Christine Buell. Photo: Facebook

Kelvin Sanders III was just 19-years-old when he was diagnosed with end-stage renal (or kidney) disease last year. Just a year after his high school graduation, Sanders had no idea that Christine Buell, his former teacher and current vice principal of Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School, would be the person who would give him the gift of life.

Sanders’ loved ones put out a request for a donor after his parents and several family friends were not a match. After seeing this request from one of Sanders’ friends on Facebook, Buell decided to try and help.

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“It’s the gift of life,” said Anne Black, CEO of National Kidney Foundation of Illinois. “It’s an unbelievable gift.”

This gift, though, is not often given in the African-American community. Over a third of the 101,000 people currently waiting for a kidney are Black, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Because of high blood pressure and other kidney-damaging conditions, African Americans — along with Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics/Latinos — are three times more likely than Caucasians to suffer from end-stage renal disease. But, only 13 percent received kidney transplants from living donors. Most donors receive kidneys from people they know and all living donors, but only 10 percent were Black last year.

Many attribute this lack of living donors in the African-American community to…