August is National Minority Donor Awareness Month. A month dedicated to bringing attention to the health disparities that contribute to the need for organ transplants and to help alleviate the large number of minorities who are waiting for life-saving organs in the United States. National Minority Donor Awareness Week began over 20 years ago and this is the first year that the celebration will last the entire month of August.

National Organ Donation Agencies partner with Transplant Centers to stress the need for organ transplants among multicultural communities. This year the theme is “One Voice, One Vision…To Save and Heal Lives.”

According to LOPA spokesperson Suzanna Morton, there is a gap between the demand for organ transplants and the supply of donated organs. There are currently more than 100,000 waiting on a transplant and more than 58% of those are racial and ethnic minorities. In Louisiana, it’s closer to 63%. African American candidates wait longer for kidney, heart, and lung transplants and this is why there is a need to have a special time dedicated to educate the community to help heal and save lives.

Cheryl McGee-Hills, Community Educator with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency says, “African American’s are disproportionately at risk for diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. which hurt the kidneys and often create the need for dialysis. So, it is critical for the black community to recognize their health risks and have a conversation about organ donation.”

LOPA is a not-for-profit organ and tissue recovery agency for the state of Louisiana. LOPA recovers donated organs and tissues, places them for transplant, and offers support for families throughout the entire donation process.

LOPA’s outreach efforts to provide donation education, encourage donor registration, and promote healthy living are free to the community. Special programming for National Minority Donor Awareness Month includes a special edition of our Gifted Life Podcast, volunteer training social media campaign. We have adapted several of our presentations to online formats to keep the public safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. - Cheryl McGee-Hills, Community Educator with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency

On average, 20 people die every day waiting for a transplant.