Illinois Secretary of State Promotes Organ and Tissue Donations in the State

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The Illinois Secretary of State is hoping more people of color will step up and be organ donors in the state.

Secretary of State Jesse White hosted the National Minority Donor Awareness Week event “Wave Away the Waiting” to promote organ/tissue donation for multicultural communities. White was joined by donor recipients and families yesterday in Chicago.

White spoke about some of the statistics at the event.

“Although Illinois has one of the largest donor registries nationwide with 6.7 million individuals who have decided they to want to donate their organs when the time is right. However, about 300 Illinoisans die each year because organs have not arrived in a timely manner. We ask that if you are alive and well, to give blood and if you are no longer here, to give organs. When you have done those two things, you will make a positive impact on society. There are 59 percent of people who are on the list doe organs, however, only 33 percent of individuals participate in this program so we want to try to get those numbers up. We also are proud because 4,007 individuals who live in Illinois are waiting for a life saving organ, so we initiated a law which will allow 16 and 17 year olds to participate in the organ and tissue donor program. Right now we have 83,000 of these young people who have signed up to be a part of the organ and tissue donor program. That is good news but there are still others who we need to participate in this program as well.”

White also spoke about some of the myths, assuring donors that selling organs and doctors not taking care of patients to harvest organs is not true.

According to a press release, nationally, people of color comprise 59 percent of the waiting list for organ transplants; however, this year they accounted for only 33 percent of those who donated organs, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

In Illinois, 6.7 million people are registered as organ/tissue donors, yet there are approximately 4,700 people waiting for transplants. People of color are disproportionately affected by illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes, which can lead to the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant, increasing the number of patients on the organ transplant waiting list, according to United Network for Organ Sharing.

Dozens of volunteers participated in the event, which was held on the plaza of the James R. Thompson Center in recognition ofthe awareness week, August 1-7. Illinoisans can register with the Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor Registry online at LifeGoesOn.com, by calling 1-800-210-2106 or by visiting their local Driver Services facility.