LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As part of its commitment to serve the many diverse communities of Southern California, OneLegacy continues its outreach initiatives during August’s National Minority Donor Awareness Month. People of color make up more than 70% of transplant recipients in the region; but the need for organ donation and transplantation is greater in minority communities, while cultural perceptions and economic barriers persist that often prevent people of color from becoming donors or recipients.
National Minority Donor Awareness Month is a nationwide, collaborative effort to save and improve the quality of life of diverse communities by creating a positive culture for organ, eye and tissue donation. To support the effort, OneLegacy has marshalled its resources to bring heightened awareness to donation and transplantation in minority communities and to bridge the gap between the demand for organ transplants and supply of donated organs.
Earlier this month OneLegacy hosted a virtual town hall webinar featuring Marion Shuck, president of the Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation. In this latest edition of OneLegacy’s “Connecting the Dots” town hall series, Shuck laid out the hard facts regarding donation and transplantation in minority communities, including the fact that nearly 60% of the 109,000 Americans waiting for a transplant are from racial and ethnic minorities, including 29% African American and 21% Hispanic.
“The need for donation and transplantation is more pronounced in minority communities where disproportionately higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease contribute to organ failure,” said Shuck. “African Americans are almost four times more likely than white Americans to have kidney failure, and Hispanics are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanics to have kidney failure—yet there remain many barriers to minorities donating and receiving transplants. It is important to educate our communities of color about registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor and also consider living donation.”
According to OneLegacy Chief Executive Officer Tom Mone, these health disparities are the result of “issues of trust of the medical system, traditional beliefs around death and dying, and the presumption that the organ transplant system discriminates.” While the data shows that organs go to those in greatest need regardless of race, social and health care barriers, Mone said that barriers “still exist that prevent people from being offered the opportunity of choosing to receive a transplant. This is the reason OneLegacy is taking such an active role in trying to dispel myths and encourage donation from all populations in our region and across the United States.”
As part of these efforts, on Aug. 25 OneLegacy will be hosting its first bilingual “Connecting the Dots” panel, featuring local Hispanic recipients and donor families affected by COVID-19, as they discuss their health care needs while staying safe from the virus. Entitled “Hispanics and Healthcare During COVID-19,” this Facebook live event—beginning at 5 p.m. (PDT)—will also feature health care experts and Hispanic newscasters and can be accessed here.
The OneLegacy town hall series is one of the many initiatives underway at OneLegacy as part of its outreach to diverse communities throughout the greater Southern California region. OneLegacy has also launched a social media outreach campaign to share facts and figures about health care access and disparities among diverse communities; public service announcements highlighting health resources available for African Americans, Hispanics and Asians in Southern California; and a program of personal storytelling from local donor families and transplant recipients who share their stories about the power of donation. OneLegacy’s outreach efforts also involve working directly with a number of multicultural advocacy organizations including Zeta Phi Beta, an international, historically African American Greek-lettered sorority, and the Young Visionaries Leadership Academy in San Bernardino, to offer free meals and supplies for up to 500 families on Aug. 29. Families can register here to participate in this event.
“At OneLegacy, we take this challenge personally, as our service area covers the most diverse region in the nation, comprised of 69% Hispanic, Asian and Black as compared to 31% white. We are also a region that boasts 185 distinct languages and cultures,” said Mone. “Considering that chronic disease and organ failure disproportionately affect people of color, it is incumbent upon us to lead the effort in education so as to address health disparities and encourage communities of color to seek appropriate health care; to say ‘YES’ to organ, eye and tissue donation; and to get listed for transplants, whenever necessary. The opportunity to donate and to receive a lifesaving transplant knows no sexual orientation and no national, ethnic or religious boundaries,” continued Mone. “We can create healthier communities through the generous gift of life and transplantation, an action that looks beyond race and ethnicity to help those in greatest need.”
To learn more about OneLegacy’s diversity initiatives, including stories of local transplant recipients, donor family members and living donors, visit OneLegacy’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook channels.
OneLegacy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation in seven counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern. It serves more than 200 hospitals, 11 transplant centers, a diverse population of nearly 20 million, donors and families across the region, and waiting recipients across the country. For more information, visit onelegacy.org.
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