Minorities are in Critical Need of Organ and Tissue Donors

Every 12 minutes in the United States, one patient is added to an organ

donor list. Eighteen people die each day due to apathy or misunderstanding

on the part of potential donors.

Jul 25, 2007, 01:00 ET from Morehouse School of Medicine

    ATLANTA, July 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nearly half million
 minorities in the United States are waiting on organ transplants and Eve J.
 Higginbotham, MD, Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) in Atlanta is
 calling on minorities to become organ and tissue donors.
     (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070725/DCW097 )
     As the United States prepares to observe National Minority Donor
 Awareness Day August 1, 2007, 51 percent of people in urgent need of
 transplants are minorities. Yet, studies show only 25 percent of organ
 donors are ethnic populations. Last year, research revealed that 20,841
 minorities received organ transplants -- but fewer than 3,000 deceased and
 fewer than 2,000 living organ and tissue donors were of African American
 decent, according to Donate Life America, a non-profit organization that
 provides education and information for potential donors.
     "There are nearly 100,000 people of all ages, races, and religions in
 desperate need of life-saving organ transplants that may not come in time,"
 Dr. Higginbotham said. "Hundreds of thousands more are in need of tissue
 transplants to restore their health, mobility, and sight." Dr. Higginbotham
 will lead a donor sign up event at Morehouse School of Medicine on August
 1. "As an ophthalmic surgeon, I am especially aware of the miracle of sight
 that takes place when corneal tissue is donated."
     James W. Reed, MD, MACP, FACE, professor of medicine, associate chair
 of medicine for research, chief of endocrinology, chief of medicine service
 at Grady Memorial Hospital for Morehouse School of Medicine, and
 board-certified specialist in clinical hypertension is not only a leading
 expert in diseases that can often lead to organ transplantation -- he is
 the recipient of an organ transplant.
     "There is a greater number of minorities who need organ transplants,
 but there is a lack of donors. We need more organs than anyone, but we are
 the last ones to donate them, especially in the African-American community.
 We are in the most need for kidney transplants, but we are the last to give
 them. I'm not sure if it's because of superstition, or religion or
 something else, but it needs to be fixed," stated Reed.
     Reed received a kidney transplant several years ago from his sister.
 Although Reed's need for a transplant was caused by a genetic problem, he
 said most kidney transplants result from diseases like hypertension and
 diabetes, both conditions that are prevalent in the American South.
     Diabetes and high blood pressure are more common in minority
 communities. African Americans are 1.8 times more likely to have diabetes
 as non-Hispanic whites, according to the American Diabetes Association
 (ADA). Kidneys are the organs in highest demand, especially within the
 black community. Sixty-one percent (or almost 43,000 people) are in need of
 kidney transplants. Time on a waiting list means more time spent on
 dialysis, in the hospital - even death.
     Medical experts agree one donor can improve and even save the life of
 more than 50 individuals. There are few restrictions to becoming a donor: a
 person may not be HIV-positive, have active cancer, or systemic infection.
 Every major religion in the United States supports organ transplants and
     For more information on organ donation:
     About Morehouse School of Medicine
     Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is a fully accredited, four-year
 institution established to recruit and train minority and other students as
 physicians, biomedical scientists and public health professionals committed
 to the health-care needs of the underserved. MSM is a member of the largest
 consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the
 world, the Atlanta University Center (AUC). MSM and nearby Morehouse
 College are separate institutions.

SOURCE Morehouse School of Medicine