August is National Multiethnic Donor Awareness Month and it is a collaborative effort by the National Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation Multicultural Action Group to save and improve the quality of life of diverse communities by creating a positive culture for organ, eye, and tissue donation. National Multiethnic Donor Awareness Month stems from National Minority Donor Awareness Week, founded in 1996 by the National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP), to bring heightened awareness to health disparities, and organ donation and transplantation’s impact in minority communities.
Our voices are united to address the number one problem in transplantation: the gap between the demand for organ transplants and supply of donated organs. The waiting list currently stands at more than 100,000 with more than 60% representing racial and ethnic minorities. Even though a record number of nearly 40,000 people, including more than 18,000 racial and ethnic minorities, received the gift of life in 2020, the gap remains staggeringly high. On average, 20 people die every day waiting for a transplant.
The need for donation and transplant 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 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 are part of the need for National Minority Donor Awareness Month education and outreach to help heal and save lives in our communities.
During National Multiethnic Donor Awareness Month, national organ donation organizations elevate the need for more organ, eye and tissue donors within multicultural communities, provide donation education, encourage donor registration, and promote healthy living and disease prevention to decrease the need for transplantation. National Multiethnic Donor Awareness Month is another important effort to promote the positive messages that are necessary for minority communities to make the decision for organ, eye and tissue donation.
National Multicultural Action Group partners, the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB), Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation (AMAT), Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO), Donate Life America (DLA), Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) and National Kidney Foundation (NKF), have developed the National Multiethnic Donor Awareness Month Toolkit — now available for download and public dissemination at amat1.org. Please use hashtag #NMDAM when sharing and supporting National Multiethnic Donor Awareness messages and information on social media. You can register your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor at the DMV or online at DonateLifeVirginia.org.