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Las Vegas organization raises awareness of growing need of minority organ donors

Donated organs cause four people to develop breast cancer in 'extremely rare' case
Posted at 5:41 AM, Dec 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-07 09:32:43-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Right now more than 100,000 people are waiting for a life saving organ in the U.S. and of those, more than 60% represent racial and ethnic minorities.

One organization in Las Vegas is working to close that gap by addressing common misconceptions surrounding organ donation.

The Nevada Donor Network is a member of Donate Life Nevada, a statewide collaboration of agencies committed to motivating Nevada residents to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.

Christina Hernandez, the communications and engagement liaison for the organization says there’s a big push to get minorities registered because there’s a shortage of suitably matched donors.

“Right now in the United States, over half of the people that are waiting are from a minority background,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said if more people with ethnic backgrounds donated their organs after death, or even as a living donor, transplant waiting times would reduce significantly.

Courtney Kaplan lost her son Michael Sigler following a motorcycle crash right before his high school graduation. Doctors told Kaplan her son only had a 5% chance of survival. After hearing that, the family decided to donate his organs, helping save 8 others.

“There are tragedies that happen and when you can find a silver lining, it’s a beautiful thing. You’re just flooded with this hope and this love for this person that you don’t know, you’ve never met but literally carries a piece of your son with them,” Kaplan said.

Although organs are not matched by race and ethnicity, and people of different races frequently match one another, all individuals waiting for an organ transplant will have a better chance of receiving a transplant if there are large numbers of donors from their racial or ethnic background.