During the month of August, LifeLink of Florida will celebrate National Minority Donor Awareness Month (NMDAM) to bring heightened awareness to organ and tissue donation and transplantation in minority communities. Minorities often experience higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease which can contribute to organ failure, especially kidney failure. African Americans are three times more likely than white Americans to suffer from kidney failure and Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to have kidney failure.
During National Minority Donor Awareness Month, LifeLink of Florida will highlight the need for more organ, eye and tissue donors within multicultural communities, provide donation education, encourage donor registration, and promote healthy living and disease prevention to decrease the need for transplantation. Individuals interested in celebrating this month are encouraged to follow LifeLink social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to participate in the education programs offered.
Krystle Pitts, an African American volunteer for LifeLink, shared, “I waited four years on the national transplant waiting list and on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, I received my kidney transplant.” Krystle was in end stage kidney failure before receiving her transplant in Jacksonville, Florida, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to her surgery, the hospital had implemented new rules which required her to be tested for COVID-19 and only allowed her to have one person in the hospital with her. Krystle chose her mother to be by her side once she was out of surgery. While nervous to receive her transplant during the COVID-19 pandemic, Krystle said she appreciated the hospital’s safety protocols and thanked her parents and friends for their physical and spiritual support. “I want to thank my donor for making the decision to donate. That decision literally saved my life,” says Krystle.
Krystle created a blog, www.krystlekryscendo.com, documenting her life, that highlights her travel, food and also her journey through kidney failure and transplantation, where she has inspired others to be aware of and check on their health. “There are myths, mistrust and lack of education surrounding organ donation, but some of us in these communities are in need,” says Krystle. She volunteers with LifeLink to help spread the Donate Life message and educate her community about donation. Krystle has openly shared her story with friends and encouraged them to register as organ and tissue donors. Krystle says, “At the end of your life if you can still continue to help, why wouldn’t you? If you have the opportunity, take advantage and do something good.”
Currently more than 5,300 Floridians are in need of an organ transplant and roughly 61 percent of those waiting are from minority populations. For the thousands of Floridians listed for a life-saving transplant, organ donation offers hope for a longer life. Anyone can be a potential donor, regardless of age or medical history; a single donor can save or improve the lives of up to 75 people. LifeLink inspires the public to register their donation decision at www.DonateLifeFlorida.org or when obtaining or renewing a driver license.
NMDAM is a collaborative initiative of Donate Life America (DLA), Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation (AMAT), Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO), The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) and National Kidney Foundation (NKF) to save and improve the quality of life of diverse communities by creating a positive culture for organ, eye, and tissue donation.