LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The high prevalence of chronic kidney disease and the need for kidney donation and transplantation in communities of color was the subject of a timely and important webinar conducted yesterday by OneLegacy. Held in conjunction with National Kidney Month, the virtual “town hall” was the latest in a series of “Connecting the Dots” events produced by OneLegacy aimed at bridging the gap between the demand for organ transplants and the supply of donated organs in minority communities.
Featured speaker at the webinar was Morgan Reid, director of transplant policy & strategy for the National Kidney Foundation. In that role, Reid advocates for health equity to ensure that each person diagnosed with chronic kidney disease has an equal opportunity for kidney transplant access. She has been an advocate for saving lives through donation and transplantation since she received her own kidney transplant in 2007.
"When we think about social determinants of health and when we think about health equity, these are important factors that play into a person’s health status,” said Reid. “When you look at people of color, some of our culture contributes to kidney failure."
Gabriela Teissier, morning news anchor at Univision, was the panel moderator and was joined on the panel by OneLegacy Ambassador & kidney transplant recipient Anel Aguirre and OneLegacy Donation Development Coordinator Ernie Blas. Together they joined with Reid in exploring the reasons for the disparity in kidney health along with strategies that can increase donor registration in communities of color, bring the waiting list numbers down and improve health outcomes. “"We want people to understand what is happening in their community. What is the need in the Hispanic and African American community," said Reid.
Currently, Black Americans account for about 13.4% of the national population yet comprise about 28% of those waiting for an organ transplant. Similarly, Hispanic/Latinx Americans account for about 18.5% of the national population yet make up about 20.5% of those on the waiting list. This greater need among communities of color is driven by a disproportionate prevalence of health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which are responsible for about two-thirds of chronic kidney disease cases.
As it pertains specifically to kidney disease, African Americans are almost four times as likely as White Americans to develop kidney failure and thus make up about 31.4% of the kidney waiting list. Hispanic/Latinx Americans are 1.3 times more likely than White Americans to develop kidney failure and make up about 21.2% of the kidney waiting list. Since 2000, the number of Hispanic Americans diagnosed with kidney failure has increased by more than 70%.
Health disparities exist among communities of color for a multitude of reasons, including financial and cultural barriers to access healthcare, a multi-generational distrust of the medical system, traditional beliefs around death and dying, and the false presumption that the organ transplant system discriminates. In truth the opportunity to donate and to receive a lifesaving transplant knows no national, racial, ethnic nor religious boundaries nor sexual orientation; it simply helps those in greatest need.
The ”Connecting the Dots” town halls, which began in 2020, is just one of a myriad of activities in which OneLegacy is engaged to help call attention to the health disparity in organ donation and to emphasize the importance of health equity and access to quality healthcare for all communities. To help encourage more people of color to register to be a donor, the nonprofit organization is also engaged in a social media outreach campaign, produces public service announcements, has a presence at numerous DMV locations throughout Southern California, has a weekly presence at the Mexican Consulate of Los Angeles and participates at numerous Hispanic health fairs and community events throughout the year, providing outreach to local Latinx communities.
OneLegacy is the nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation in seven counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern. It serves more than 200 hospitals, 10 transplant centers, a diverse population of 20 million donors and families across the region and waiting recipients across the country. Becoming an eye, organ or tissue donor is easy and can be done by registering online at donateLIFEcalifornia.org/OneLegacy or by “checking YES” at your local DMV. For more information, visit OneLegacy.org