Donation in Minority Communities
Although organs and tissues are able to be transplanted between people of different races, transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of similar ethnic backgrounds. Currently, there is a discrepancy in the United States between the number of ethnic minorities on the transplant waiting list, and the number of minority donors. A greater diversity of donors could potentially increase access to transplantation for everyone.
Ethnic minorities are facing a public health crisis and are in desperate need of more organ, eye, and tissue donors. This disparity exists for a number of reasons:
First, many of the conditions leading to the need for a transplant—such as diabetes and hypertension—occur more frequently among minority populations. African Americans and other minorities are also three times more likely to suffer from end-stage renal disease than white Americans. On average in our region, 38% of candidates waiting for a kidney transplant are in a minority community.
Second, transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of similar ethnic backgrounds—but unfortunately, only 29.6% of donors last year were ethnic minorities. This creates a shortage of matching organs, which leads to longer waiting periods and higher death rates in communities of color. For example, minorities make up roughly 61% of the kidney waiting list, but minority patients wait twice as long as white Americans for kidney transplants, despite strict equal-access regulations that ensure ethical and equitable distribution of organs.