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Are There Enough Minority Organ Donors in the USA?

August 1st, 2017 - By Matt Garnese

As we enter Minority Donor Awareness Week, let’s take some time to reflect on how racial demographics apply to organ donors and recipients. In order to raise awareness with your patients, you may want to take some time to discuss their organ donor status, and how they can help increase availability and make waiting list times shorter.

How Does Ethnicity Affect Organ Donors and Recipients?

Although a single organ donor can potentially save the lives of eight people, the demand for transplantable organs greatly exceeds supply. While donated organs are not necessarily matched to specific ethnic/racial groups, very often compatible tissue markers and blood types (which help make sure the transplant won’t be rejected) can be. Of those currently on organ transplant waiting lists, minorities make up approximately 60 percent. Raising awareness for all racial/ethnic groups about the need to donate organs is a big advantage to increasing the amount of donors necessary to meet the current demand. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently made the following statement, cited by the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network:

“African-Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics/Latinos are three times more likely than Caucasians to suffer from end-stage renal disease, often as the result of high blood pressure and other conditions that can damage the kidneys. Almost 35 percent of the more than 100,000 people on the national waiting list for a kidney transplant are African-American.”

Raising Awareness With Your Patients

It’s important when speaking to your patients about minority organ donorship to emphasize to them that racial/ethnic background is never a factor in the amount of time someone has been on the waiting list. As mentioned above, blood type, tissue type, body type, and the severity of the illness does affect wait times, and this reason is key to understanding the need to increase the supply of organs from all donor ethnic groups. A uniform representation of different ethnic groups makes it easier for all races to receive organs successfully.

How Your EHR Can Improve Organ Transplant Outcomes

Whether working in surgery or internal medicine practice, EHR software supplies you with the templates, workflows, and anatomical diagrams to properly diagnose and treat your patients. PrognoCIS EHR is listed as a resource by the National Kidney Foundation and provides procedure templates, like colposcopy, and health screenings for osteoporosis, breast cancer, as well as templates for surgical consultation, pre-op, post-op, and follow up visits.

Keep your patients informed about how they can become organ donors in order to increase availability and reduce the time spent on waiting lists.

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