Both racial and socioeconomic issues results in Black people not donating organs as much as white people do. This obviously leads to less organs within available to the Black community because although we are of the same species, most often, white organs cannot survive in a Black body.
Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network teamed with former Chicago Bulls forward Bob Love and radio/TV personality Darryll King conducted a donation awareness and education campaign at barbershops and beauty salons in Chicago’s south suburbs, April 11.
The barber shop/beauty salon donation awareness and education tour will be held to commemorate National Donate Life Month in April, and is part of Gift of Hope’s ongoing Mayors for Hope and Churches for Hope campaigns, which kicked off in March. The campaigns seek to convey the message to communities about the importance of organ and tissue donation and the tremendous impact that being a registered donor can have on people’s lives.
Blacks in America donate organs (13 percent of donors) at about the same rate they make up the population (14 percent), but they represent a disproportionate 35 percent of the kidney waiting list, according to 2011 statistics. Racism and lack of awareness drive these low numbers.
Marion Shuck, Gift of Hope’s Manager of Community Affairs, said Black Americans and Hispanics top the list of people currently waiting for lifesaving organ transplants, kidney transplants in particular because the prevalence of end-stage renal disease is higher in these cultural groups than in others. More than 123,000 people are currently waiting for organ transplants in the United States, 101,000 of whom need kidney transplants. Black Americans make up 34 percent of this group, and Hispanics make up 19 percent.
Organ donations made the news in the Black community recently when a Black Muslim donated a kidney to a young Black Christian in Detroit.
“It’s important for us to speak with people rather than speaking at people in conveying our message about the importance of being a registered organ and tissue donor and the vital need for kidney transplants among African-Americans and Hispanics,” said Jack Lynch, Gift of Hope’s Director of Community Affairs. “We must dispel myths and misinformation about donation to raise the bar on organ and tissue donation awareness and education, and we need people to realize that now, more than ever, it could be them in need of an organ transplant.”
Lynch, Love, King and Shuck will start their south suburban tour 10 a.m. on April 11, spending about 15 minutes at each of more than a dozen south suburban barber shops and beauty salons.