Jesse White, volunteers gather to ‘Wave Away the Waiting’ during National Minority Donor Awareness Day

Online Staff Report

CHICAGO — Aug. 1, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (D) joined with dozens of volunteers at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago to represent the approximately 300 people who die each year waiting for an organ transplant. The event, titled “Wave Away the Waiting,” served to encourage organ donation in multicultural communities.

There is a long list of people waiting for transplants within multicultural communities,” said White. “Kidneys are very much in need. Since genetic matches between people belonging to the same ethnic group are most successful, it is imperative that people of similar ethnicities become organ and tissue donors.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), last year in Illinois:

There were 2,159 African-Americans on the waiting list and only 81 became donors;

There were 858 Hispanics on the waiting list and only 25 became donors; and

There were 234 Asian-Americans on the waiting list and only seven became organ donors.

In Illinois, 5.3 million people are registered as organ/tissue donors, yet there are 5,000 people waiting for transplants. National Minority Donor Awareness Day aims to educate people about the need for organ, eye and tissue donation within multicultural communities. Nationally, minorities composed more than 56 percent of the national waiting list for organ transplant, however accounted for only 34 percent of actual organ donors.

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 national organ transplant waiting list.

Booths were available at the event for people to join the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry, donate blood and receive kidney screenings, among other services. In addition, the Jesse White Tumbling Team performed.

To join the organ and tissue donor registry, visit

Posted Aug. 1, 2013

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