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Donate Life - Nebraska - Multicultural Perspectives

People of All Ethnicities Can Save Lives

People of all ages, races, and ethnicities can save and enhance lives by donating their organs, eyes and tissue. The need among some multicultural populations is disproportionately high due to certain diseases that eventually may require transplant, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. For example, African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics are three times more likely than Caucasians to suffer from end-stage renal (kidney) disease. Almost 35% of the more than 80,000 people on the national waiting list for a kidney transplant are African American.

Candidates for transplant are typically matched based on medical urgency, length of time on the waiting list, severity of illness, and issues of compatibility such as blood type, tissue match, and body size. Genetic makeup can be a factor when matching a kidney or pancreas donor and recipient, because of the importance of tissue matching within those two organs. Optimal tissue matching can happen within the same racial and genetic background, increasing overall success rates. All individuals waiting for an organ transplant will have a better chance of receiving one if there are large numbers of donors from their racial/ethnic background.

African American Statistics

African Americans are the largest group of minorities in need of an organ transplant. 

African Americans have higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure than Caucasians, increasing the risk of organ failure. African Americans comprise 13% of the population, 34% of those waiting for a kidney, and 21% of those waiting for a heart.

African-Americans are four times more likely than Caucasians to be on dialysis because of kidney failure, which must often be treated by kidney transplantation.

In 2011:

  • 21% of all transplant recipients were African American
  • 73% of African American transplant recipients received kidneys
  • 16% of all deceased donors were African American

Hispanic/Latino Statistics

Hispanics/Latinos in the United States have high rates of diabetes and heart disease.

Mexican Americans in particular suffer disproportionately from obesity, which contributes to diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease—increasing the risk of organ failure. Hispanics/Latinos comprise 16% of the population, 18% of those waiting for a kidney, and 17% of those waiting for a liver.

In 2011:

  • 13% of all those who received transplants were Hispanic/Latino
  • 65% of Hispanic/Latino transplant recipients received kidneys
  • 23% of Hispanic/Latino transplant recipients received livers
  • 13% of all deceased donors were Hispanic/Latino

Asian/Native Hawaiin/Pacific Islander Statistics

Asian, and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander populations 

Asians, and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders suffer significantly from kidney and liver disease. Asians are 1½ times as likely as Caucasians to develop end-stage kidney disease and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are 7 times as likely to develop chronic liver disease, increasing the risk of organ failure.

In 2011:

  • 70% of Asians, and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander transplant recipients received kidneys
  • 21% of Asian, and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander transplant recipients received livers
  • 2.6% of all deceased donors were Asian, and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander

Overall

  • In 2010, 67% of all deceased donors were White, 16% were Black, 13% Hispanic and 2.3% Asian.
  • As of December 2011, the national waiting list was made up of 45% White, 29% Black, 18% Hispanic, and 7% Asian.

 *Organdonor.gov, April 2013