NJ Sharing Network encourages organ donation in multicultural communities
While National Donor Awareness Month (August) honors the generosity of multicultural donors and their families, there's also a critical need for people from diverse communities to register as organ and tissue donors in New Jersey.
New Jersey Sharing Network is committed to leading these local outreach efforts with its #DonationNeedsDiversity Campaign, an multi-platform initiative to empower multicultural communities to become involved in saving and healing lives through organ and tissue donation.
CEO and President Joe Roth said of the nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents waiting for a life-saving transplant, 67% of them are people of color.
While it doesn't sound like a big number, Roth said last year, 18% of organ donors in New Jersey were people of color. That's better than the national average which is 12%. "So, we're working on it. We're making some progress but we're not finished," he said.
According to Roth, this has become an issue of concern because there's been a mistrust of the medical community with people of color from years of historical issues dealing with abuse. So that's something that's been in the communities for quite some time. Also, there was a fear if people made their wishes known to be organ donors, then if they arrived at a hospital with a serious non-survivable injury that doctors would not treat them to survive, but to treat them to become organ donors. Luckily, there's been a lot of progress in dealing with these issues.
There are not enough organs, he said. Plus there are a lot of people of color waiting for an organ transplant, not only in New Jersey but across the country. He said although organs are not matched according to race and ethnicity, at times, being able to match an organ with a recipient is important especially if they are like race.
Also keep in mind that becoming an organ donor doesn't just save one life. One organ donor can save up to eight lives. Those are the number of solid organs that can be transplanted: two lungs, two kidneys, heart, liver, pancreas and large intestine. Roth said not every donor can donate eight organs because of their health status but the goal is to always transplant as many organs as possible, which, again can save up to eight lives.
Roth wants to thank all New Jerseyans who have registered to become an organ donor. Less than one tenth of 1% of people who are registered donors actually become donors so the need to get more people registered is so important.
For those who are not registered organ donors, he urges them to go to the website at www.NJSharingNetwork.org to sign up and get information or if not, at least let the family know what your wishes may be.
NJ Sharing Network's #DonationNeedsDiversity year-round campaign features a combination of in-person community events and activities as well as virtual programs on its social media channels, website and targeted e-mails. To get involved in the campaign, please visit www.NjSharingNetwork.org/donation-needs-diversity.
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