TAMPA, Fla – (February 1, 2016) – Many myths abound about the subject of organ and tissue donation. Some are so deeply ingrained in a person’s psyche they dismiss facts and logic and hold fast to their unsupported claims. Though many myths have been spread about the topic, one fact is not often discussed. If organ donation did not exist, thousands of people would die.
As it now stands, 22 Americans die daily because of the lack of available organs available for transplant. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, more than 25% of those who died awaiting a transplant in 2015 were African American. Currently, 30% of patients waiting for a lifesaving transplant are African American and unfortunately the wait time for many of these individuals is greater than their white counterparts.
Debra Cason is one of the thousands of individuals listed for an organ transplant. Cason led an active life prior to her kidney failure diagnosis. She traveled, worked full time and helped her youngest son transition from high school to college. However, after almost eight years of waiting for the right match, she is no longer able to live the life she once enjoyed. “As a kidney patient I suffer with bouts of anemia and low energy levels,” says Cason. “I have been unable to secure full time employment and travel at will.”
Thousands of other African Americans throughout the country are waiting for the chance to reclaim the lives they once had. If more people made the decision to become an organ donor their wait times would drastically reduce. “We look for genes that are a match in the same race,” said Dr. Mayra Lopez-Cepero, Senior Vice President and Director of the LifeLink® Transplantation Immunology Laboratory. Lopez-Cepero and her staff work to make sure the best matches are made between an organ donor and recipient. “The majority of African Americans are in blood group B. This is also the least common of the blood in the population. This is one of the reasons African Americans may wait longer for a transplant.”
As the nation celebrates Black History Month and the amazing contributions African Americans have made for this country, please consider another remarkable act -- sign up to be an organ donor. “For those who have not decided to become an organ donor I would encourage them to get all the knowledge they can about organ donation & realize how many people would benefit with such a selfless gift of life,” said Cason.
Signing up to be an organ donor is simple. One can declare their wishes when renewing or receiving a driver’s license, or online at www.DonateLifeFlorida.org. Organ donation occurs after death and one donor could save up to eight lives. One “yes” can make a difference. “I have always been a person who believed that all things are possible no matter how bad it seems,” said Cason. “I have faith in God who makes things possible and I believe that some good will come to my situation.”
For more information, visit www.LifeLinkFoundation.org or call (813) 253-2640 and ask for the Public Affairs Department.