Organ donation benefits us all

Normally I wouldn't write columns in back-to-back issues, because the task of writing an editorial each week can be a heavy enough burden in and of itself.

However, when a miracle happens, the whole world should know about it, especially when it involves the saving of a young life.

As many of ya'll know, my niece Latasha Evans has spent the past few months in Children's Hospital in Seattle waiting for a heart transplant, and honestly the odds weren't exactly in her favor.

The roller coaster ride of the past few agonizing months ended early Wednesday morning, when a heart was found for her allowing her a second chance at life to be a kid instead of being stuck in the hospital for an eternity.

That wouldn't have been possible without the decision of her donor family to make organ donation a priority.

Every time someone gets their driver's license renewed they have the choice of signing up to be an organ donor, but unfortunately many people miss that opportunity.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration website, each day, about 77 people receive organ transplants. However, 19 people die each day waiting for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage of donated organs.

Anyone regardless of their age can donate their age, as it depends on a person's physical condition, according to the website.

Everything from hearts to intestines, skin to bone and corneas can be donated.

The Lions International have made great strides in cornea transplants, and other researchers have done likewise in other transplant areas, but there is still work to be done.

For minorities the organ donation shortage is even more acute than it is for non-minority groups.

According to the website, some diseases of the kidney, heart, lung, pancreas and liver are found more frequently in racial and ethnic minority populations than in the general population. For example, African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics are three times more likely than Whites to suffer from end-stage renal disease. Native Americans are four times more likely than Whites to suffer from diabetes. Some of these diseases are best treated through transplantation and others can only be treated through transplantation.

Patients are less likely to reject an organ if it is donated by an individual who is genetically similar. People are usually more genetically similar to others of their own ethnicity than to people of other ethnicities. The more minority donors there are, the greater the likelihood that minority patients will find an organ that matches their tissue type.

Fortunately for Latasha some family made the tough decision and chose to give the gift of hope to others in their time of despair and grief. I know it wasn't an easy decision, but I want to thank them on behalf of our entire family.

Maybe some day we'll get to meet them and personally thank them for their generosity and kindness, but until then I urge each and every person who reads this column to do the right thing and be an organ donor.

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