HonorBridge celebrates September 15 – October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. This nationwide observance honors the generosity of Hispanic donors and transplant recipients while inspiring more people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. You can register as a donor at Register as a Donor.
The lives of more than 4,000 Hispanics in the United States were saved last year through organ donation and transplantation. Yet, there are more than 19,000 individuals of Hispanic heritage still waiting for lifesaving organ transplants. Many thousands more require the healing power of tissue and corneal transplantation.
Ruben knows what it is like to be on the waiting list. “The waiting breaks you,” he said. “You start thinking about how your family will be without you. I questioned if I would see my daughter graduate elementary school, let alone graduate college and get married.” Ruben had cancer in his liver and bile ducts and this only chance for survival was with a liver transplant. Because of someone’s life-affirming decision to register as a donor and to share it with their family, Ruben no longer had to worry. “I just felt like a new person. It’s literally an injection of life,” Ruben said.
Mike Gonzales, a United States Army Chief Warrant Officer had the strength and determination to overcome any obstacle. But then he was faced with his toughest challenge yet – losing his sight due to a corneal disease. After his corneal transplant, Mike was able to return to his military career and serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom, a feat that would have never happened without the amazing gift from his donor.
Not everyone awaiting a transplant is as lucky as Ruben and Mike. In 2013, 4,133 Hispanic patients received organ transplants and there were 1,940 Hispanic donors. Sadly, 18 people die everyday because the transplant they so critically needed does not come in time. Successful transplantation often is enhanced by the matching of organs between members of the same ethnic and racial group. The need for more donors is clear. Registering your decision to become a donor and informing your family is the most effective way to ensure you can save lives through donation.
For more information about how to register as a donor or how to get involved please call 1-800-200-2672.