By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY – As part of its commitment to serve the many diverse communities of the state, LifeShare of Oklahoma continues its outreach initiatives during August, which is National Multiethnic Donor Awareness Month (NMDAM).
LifeShare is the organization designated to recover organs and tissue for transplant in Oklahoma.
Joining with other voices across the nation, LifeShare is working to address one of the top problems in transplantation: the gap between the demand for organ transplants and supply of donated organs.
“With the current waiting list at approximately 107,000 individuals from across the country and more than 60 percent of those individuals representing Multiethnic groups, it is very important for LifeShare to raise awareness about the need for donors,” Jeffrey Orlowski, President and Chief Executive Officer of LifeShare said.
“Though a record number of nearly 40,000 people, including more than 18,000 racial and ethnic minorities, received the gift of life in 2020, the gap remains staggeringly high,” he added.
The need for donation and transplant is more pronounced in Multiethnic communities where disproportionately higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease contribute to organ failure, Orlowski stated.
Studies show that African Americans are three times more likely than White Americans to have kidney failure. Hispanic Americans are 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to have kidney failure, according to a study by the National Kidney Foundation.
“We believe developing strategies to increase the number of organs available for transplant, and thereby increasing access to transplant for the Multiethnic communities at increased risk for end stage organ failure, is a crucial part of our mission,” Orlowski said. “We are dedicated to increasing donation to better meet the needs of our Multiethnic communities.”
During NMDAM, Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) such as LifeShare will highlight the need for more organ, eye and tissue donors within Multiethnic communities. In addition, they will provide donation education, encourage donor registration, and promote healthy living and disease prevention to decrease the need for transplantation. NMDAM is another important effort to promote the positive messages that are necessary for Multiethnic communities to make the decision for organ, eye and tissue donation.
To support the effort, LifeShare has created programs and resources to bring heightened awareness to donation and transplantation in Multiethnic communities and to bridge the gap between the demand for organ transplants and supply of donated organs.
LifeShare is a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) dedicated to the recovery of organs and tissue for transplant purposes. The organization works closely with four transplant centers and 145 healthcare organizations in the state of Oklahoma to facilitate donation.
In addition, LifeShare works to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation through public education.
For more information about LifeShare, visit lifeshareok.org.