A diverse panel of experts, community leaders, and transplant recipients provided insight into the impact and importance of organ and tissue donation and transplantation Saturday during a Facebook Live Townhall sponsored by Mid-America Transplant. Hosted by Illinois State Senator Chris Belt and Illinois State Representative Latoya Greenwood, the event was designed to bring heightened awareness to donation and transplants in multicultural communities as part of National Minority Donor Awareness Month.
Click the image below to watch the Townhall.
Panelists for the event included:
- Sen. Belt, D-Centreville, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus chair for the Illinois State Senate, who shared his personal testimony as a kidney recipient through Barnes-Jewish Hospital;
- Rep. Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, who spoke about the role of legislators in ensuring education and resources are available to the community;
- Dr. Will Ross, Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, who spoke about the challenges to donation in multicultural communities and the disproportionate need for transplants in multicultural communities;
- Dr. Henry Randall, Division Chief, Surgical Director, SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital’s Abdominal Transplant Center, who shared about the importance of donation and myths about donation held by multicultural communities;
- Pastor Ron A. Young of the Impact Church St. Louis, headquartered in East St. Louis; who provided a spiritual perspective on organ and tissue donation;
- Nikki Love-McIntyre, a volunteer with Mid-America Transplant, who told her personal testimony as a kidney and pancreas recipient though SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital;
- Connie Boatman, Director of Organ/Tissue Donor Program, Life Goes On, for the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State, who shared statistics about donation in multicultural communities and programs offered through the program to increase education and registrations.
National Minority Donor Awareness Month, observed during the month of August, is a collaborative initiative of 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 donation.
While organs are not matched according to race/ethnicity, and often people from different race/ethnicities are matched with one another, organ recipients will fare better in receiving a match from someone with the same race/ethnicity as them and having this option is important for their survival. Minority donor awareness is critical because compatible blood types and tissue markers—critical qualities for donor/recipient matching—are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity or race.
Mid-America Transplant proudly sponsored the virtual event to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation in support of more than 1,000 people in the region waiting for a lifesaving transplant. Nearly 40 percent of the wait list in the St. Louis region consists of patients of multicultural backgrounds.
The virtual event was part of Mid-America Transplant’s continued commitment to educating the community about organ and tissue donation. Register your decision to be an organ and tissue donor today!
About Mid-America Transplant
For 45 years, Mid-America Transplant has facilitated and coordinated organ and tissue donation, and now serves 84 counties covering eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and northeast Arkansas that together are home to 4.7 million people. It saves lives by providing expert and compassionate care for organ donors, donor families, and recipients. Through innovation and process improvements, the organization transformed the clinical processes to recover and transplant organs and tissues. Mid-America Transplant is federally designated as one of 58 such organizations in the U.S., and is the first organ and tissue procurement organization to be recognized as a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for Performance Excellence. For more information, visit www.midamericatransplant.org.