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More than 1,500 African Americans need organ donors

By Kanesha Leak
On October 11, 2011

Why not donate them? You can't take them with you!           

More than 3,774 North Carolinians are on the wait list to receive a kidney, a liver, or a pancreas, and almost half that number, 1,867, are African Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, 16 people die each day waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

"You can no longer use them [organs], and you are saving a life," said Rochelle Blakeney, an organ donor, senior health care management major from Monroe, N.C.

An organ donor must be at least 18 years or older; anyone under 18 must get permission from a parent or guardian.

African American are the least likely to become organ donors.

African Americans are likely to have hypertension and diabetes -- both of which can lead to  kidney failure, said Beth Hinesley, Community Relations Coordinator for Carolina Donor Services of Winston-Salem.

More than 1,756 African Americans are waiting for kidney transplants in North Carolina.

"African Americans don't donate because it's a tradition that is passed down through years that you should die with everything you came with," said Michael Isler, a registered nurse and coordinator for Student Health Services.

"I choose not to be an organ donor because the doctors will not work as hard to revive you if you are dying," said Mark Lovely.

Lovely is a senior finance major from Durham.

"Nurses and doctors took an oath to save lives; they will work to resuscitate you whether you are an organ donor or not," Hinesley said.

A recent report from the Mayo Clinic says that the medical team that works to save patient's lives is a completely different staff from those who perform organ and tissue retrievals.

"We have a lot of Black's waiting for donations especially kidney donations that have been on the list a long time and are unable to find a suitable donation," Isler said.

Patients who need transplants are more likely to find a genetically compatible match within their own racial groups.


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