More than 100,000 people are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants, and nearly 60% of them are people of multicultural backgrounds. Yet, minorities made up less than one-third of all organ donors in 2021. This is concerning because compatible organ matches tend to be more likely among members of the same ethnicity or race. That means minorities on the waitlist may wait much longer for a match – and when it’s a matter of life or death, longer isn’t always an option.
Mid-America Transplant wants to change this, so all patients, regardless of race or ethnicity, have access to the organs and tissues they need. One way we are doing this is through community outreach with predominantly multicultural faith communities. This is a year-round focus for us, but we have extra efforts in place in August, in recognition of National Minority Donor Awareness Month.
“Church tends to be a hub where people of color come for information and networking, and church leaders are greatly respected and trusted,” said Anthony McPherson, Community Engagement Coordinator at Mid-America Transplant, as well as an AME pastor. “These are communities where we can change peoples’ hearts and minds by having meaningful conversations about the lifesaving impact of organ and tissue donation.”
On August 23, Anthony will host a Facebook live and in-person discussion at Westside Baptist Church in St. Louis. The panel will include several people with personal ties to donation, including a pastor who was a living kidney donor for his brother. The panel also includes a donor family who made the generous decision to donate their loved one’s organs and tissue. All are invited to attend the panel discussion in-person or via Facebook at 6:30 p.m. on August 23.
“Hearing stories from people impacted by donation is incredibly powerful, especially when people see how members of their own community have been healed through donation,” said Anthony. “This also gives us the chance to listen to any fears that people may have about donation, such as worrying that they won’t be able to have a funeral, and reassure them that these myths are absolutely not true.”
Also throughout August, Mid-America Transplant will be attending several church events to share preventative care information. These resources will focus on kidney care and healthy living, because Black individuals are almost four times more likely to develop kidney failure due to higher rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. We hope we can help people be healthier now, because the best way to reduce the transplant waitlist is to reduce the number of people who may one day need a transplant.
Each day, 17 people in our region will die waiting for an organ transplant. Register to be a donor at SayYesGiveLife.org.