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Media Contact:
Yuliya Ryvkina | Public Relations Specialist

Gift of Hope celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, organ/tissue donation in the Latino community

ITASCA, Ill. (September 21, 2023) — During Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 15—Oct. 15, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network honors the generosity of Hispanic and Latino organ, tissue and eye donors and their families who have saved the lives of others by saying “yes” to life-giving donation.

In conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month, Gift of Hope is launching a new podcast “Hablemos de la Esperanza.” Hosted in Spanish by Luis Ortega, Gift of Hope Community Outreach Specialist, the podcast is part of Gift of Hope’s work to increase understanding of organ & tissue donation within the Latino community through conversations with families of organ donors, transplant recipients, healthcare professionals and community leaders.

Ortega and guests will launch the podcast with a special Facebook Live event on September 21 at facebook.com/giftofhope.org.

“Lack of access to information, language barriers and myths about donation often attribute to lower registration rates we see within the Latinx community,” Ortega said. “The podcast will allow us to share a message of hope with the thousands of Latinos on the transplant waiting list, while providing information about donation and transplantation that’s critical in helping people make informed decisions.”

More than 22,000 Latinos/Hispanics are on the transplant waiting list nationally, making up nearly 22% of the national average. In Illinois and Indiana, more than 900 Latinos/Hispanics are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

Health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, liver, kidney and heart disease as well as barriers to care disproportionately affect minority communities. Latinos/Hispanics are three times more likely to suffer from end stage kidney disease which can lead to the need for a transplant. Eighty-eight percent of Latinos/Hispanics on the national transplant list are waiting for a life-saving kidney.

Organizations like The Illinois Transplant Fund (ITF) are working to provide equitable access to organ transplants by covering the cost of insurance premiums for eligible patients. Established in 2015 by Gift of Hope, the ITF is funded solely through individual contributors and philanthropic funders. The ITF has helped more than 350 individuals receive life-saving organ transplants to date.

While donated organs are not matched with recipients according to race or ethnicity, compatible blood types and tissue markers – critical qualities for donor and recipient matching – are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity. The chance of long-term survival for transplant recipients may be greater if the donor and recipient share a similar genetic background.

“Donation connects people from all walks of life and offers hope and healing to so many in need. Through cultural understanding and humility, we can better serve our Latino community, our organ, eye and tissue donors and their families,” says Harry Wilkin, MD, Gift of Hope President/CEO.
Gift of Hope encourages everyone to make a difference by taking a few easy steps to help save lives:

  • Learn more and register your decision to save lives at giftofhope.org, and discuss donation and your decision to leave a legacy with your family.
  • Consider a philanthropic contribution to the Illinois Transplant Fund.
  • Spread the word during Hispanic Heritage Month: Share information in your community, or on your social channels. Visit giftofhope.org/hispanic-heritage-month for more information and downloadable materials.

About Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network
Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network is the not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) that coordinates organ and tissue donation and provides public education on donation in Illinois and northwest Indiana. As one of 56 OPOs that make up the nation’s organ donation system, Gift of Hope works with 180 hospitals and serves 12 million people in its donation service area. Since 1986, its work has saved the lives of more than 23,000 organ transplant recipients and improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of tissue transplant recipients. For more information, visit giftofhope.org.