African Americans make up 21.4 percent of North Carolina’s population but 53 percent of North Carolinians waiting on an organ transplant.
The nonprofit “Donate Life North Carolina” says that as a result, more African-American donors are needed.
“Any race can match with another race, just like donating blood, but it’s more likely to have a match if you’re in the same race,” said Dr. Elaine Hart-Brothers, who founded Community Health Coalition Incorporated in Durham 25 years ago. Its goal is to reduce health disparities among African Americans.
Dr. Hart-Brothers has treated Rudolph Harris of Wendell who received a heart transplant in 2012.
“Right now I think I’m doing real good considering what I’ve been through because I was at the point of death,” Rudolph said.
Diabetes and hypertension are just two of the chronic diseases that are found in African Americans at a higher rate. With that comes more organ failure and the need for transplants.
While Rudolph needed a heart transplant, of the 1,900 African Americans waiting on transplants in the state, 95 percent are waiting for a kidney.
“If we need a lot of organs because of diseases the community has, we should be willing to donate an organ,” Dr. Hart-Brothers said. “We should recycle our organs and the African American community needs to think of it that way.”
Nationwide, there are more than 60,000 minorities (including 32,500 African Americans) waiting for an organ transplant but last year there were only 4,400 minority organ donations, according to “Donate Life North Carolina.”
“I don’t know if they don’t realize the need of it or they’re just afraid of it or what,” Rudolph said. “Donors save lives. Regardless of what the need of the part of the body is.”
Rudolph hopes sharing his story will raise awareness and eliminate any fears.
?Copyright 2015 WNCN. All rights reserved.