Leave a great legacy

Published 10:16 pm Friday, November 18, 2016

More than 120,000 people in the United States are now on the waiting list for lifesaving organ transplants, according to the American Transplant Foundation. Another name is added to that list every 10 minutes. But 22 people die each day while waiting for a lifesaving transplant.

The problem is especially acute for African Americans.

Black people have a higher demand for organ donation, because they have a higher prevalence of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and hepatitis B and C, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, part of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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On the other hand, members of minority groups are also less likely to choose to be organ donors. African-Americans, according to the NCBI, comprise 12.9 percent of the population and 34 percent of the kidney transplant waiting list, but account for only 13.8 percent of deceased donors.

Complicating the matter, according to the Mayo Clinic, is the fact that certain blood types are more prevalent among minority populations. Since matching blood types is so important between donors and recipients, organ donations often depend on race factors that do not make a difference in other areas of medicine.

Therefore, there is a desperate need for more black organ donors, and members of the Suffolk chapter of Links Inc. are working to get the word out to the African-American faith community in an effort to encourage more people to let their loved ones know they want to be organ donors upon their death.

A “Donor Sabbath” event at 10 a.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church Mahan Street will provide the latest opportunity for the Links organization to share the message.

Links members will discuss the need for donors, dispel myths and collect cheek swab samples to add to a bone marrow donor registry. A physician will discuss the process of organ and tissue donation, and an organ recipient who is a member at First Baptist Mahan will talk about her experience.

Whether you are African-American, Caucasian or Hispanic, please consider choosing to become an organ donor. It’s easy to do, but signing the back of your license or donor card may not be enough. Visit www.donatelife/registernow, and then be sure to tell your family of your decision.

One organ donor can save eight lives and change the lives of as many as 50 people. That’s a great legacy for anyone to leave.