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August is National Minority Organ Donor Awareness Month

Across Illinois, people are being added to a waiting list. They’re hoping for a new kidney — and a second chance at life. Most people are born with two kidneys, and they can live a healthy, long life with just one. For people waiting on the donor list, they are hoping others will realize that they can safely share the gift of life.

August is National Minority Organ Donor Awareness Month, and this gives us another opportunity to raise awareness about the number of minority kidney donors. It also allows us to share how diabetes and high blood pressure affect minority communities at a much higher rate, increasing the risk of kidney failure.

As you read this post, nearly 3,400 people are waiting for a kidney in Illinois. About 700 of those people are Latinx adults; a little more than 1,350 of those waiting are Black adults.

Kidney health for Latinx adults

  • Latinx adults are 1.5 times more likely to have kidney failure compared to other Americans.

  • Latinx adults are almost twice as likely to have diabetes as white Americans.

  • Nearly 1 in 4 Latinx adults has high blood pressure.

Kidney health for Black adults

  • Thirty-five percent of American adults who have kidney failure are Black.

  • Black Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes

  • Almost half of all Black Americans have high blood pressure

Add more donors

As conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure negatively impact kidney health in minority communities, there is a higher demand for kidney donations. One way to shorten the waitlist is to increase the number of living donations, which occur when a healthy person donates an organ, or part of an organ, to another person. The living donor can be a family member, a friend, or even a stranger.

Only 910 transplants took place in 2019; there was a waiting list of 3,424 people in need of a kidney. Of those transplants, 340 came from living donors; 66 of those donors were Latinx, and only 50 of those donors were Black.

Learn more about how you can change these statistics. Become a living donor.

How to stay well — and stay at home

Canceling appointments, delaying prescription refills, or providing fewer health updates to doctors can have harmful consequences. This is even more concerning for people with chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure. You may be staying inside, but don’t put your kidney health at risk by pushing your healthcare needs to the side.

While limiting unnecessary travel, healthcare should remain a top priority. Telemedicine is one way that healthcare providers stay connected with their patients. Consider using this option for regular health and wellness checks as well as for addressing any concerns.

Here are three reasons to consider telemedicine:

1. Safely share information You may be concerned about safety or privacy while speaking with your doctor over a video call. With telemedicine appointments, you can confidently share information and other medical details with your doctor. There are security measures in place to protect your call.

2. See a friendly face The coronavirus has brought periods of isolation for many. Staying in regular contact with your doctor is another way to maintain healthy rhythms for positive, familiar relationships in your life.

3. Stay on schedule For someone with a chronic disease, missing regular appointments can have life-impacting consequences. Keep regular appointments to discuss medication, lifestyle changes, new pain levels, and more.

Telemedicine allows you to talk with a medical professional without leaving the safety and comfort of your home. You can stay in regular communication with your doctor, who has the latest information on your condition since you’ve been on your healthcare journey. With each appointment, they can answer questions, refill prescriptions, and alert you to any concerns.

If you’ve decided that telemedicine works best for you, make sure you’re prepared for your first appointment.

1. Have easy access to your current list of medications

2. Know your current weight and blood pressure

3. Think through questions or concerns

If you need help asking the right questions, we’re here to guide you.

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