The Danville Public Library served as host Thursday for an event with an important message for the community. “This is our first time putting this day on, and we hope to continue to do it,” said Barb Nolan, Danville Public Library director.
National Minority Donor Awareness Day was the focus for the day at the library. The awareness is for all ethnicities, but especially minorities to register to be an organ/tissue donor, marrow donor or blood donor.
“We need to recruit more diverse people to be on our registry to cure people of the diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma,” said Amanda Howie, donor relations coordinator for Community Blood Services.
Howie is in charge of setting up blood drives for Vermilion and Champaign counties. She urges minorities to sign up to be marrow donors.
“A bone marrow match is usually only found within their own ethnicity. Caucasians are going to find a match about 93 percent of the time and for an African-American, they are only going to find a match 66 percent of the time, so there is a huge discrepancy there,” Howie said.
For organ and tissue donation, there is no requirement for matches to be in the same ethnicity. Acceptable organs include the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and intestines.
Tissues include skin, bone, corneas, tendons, heart valves, saphenous veins, blood and bone marrow. Kidneys have the most need on the registry right now.
Barry Thomas was a recipient of a kidney five years ago. He was the third person in line to get the transplant, but after five years of waiting, he was the healthy match and received the kidney five hours after he learned he was chosen to receive it. He was in surgery from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m. and now is healthy and has yearly check-ups.