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JAMA Study: Illinois Ranks 13th in World for Organ Donation

ITASCA, Ill., Aug. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a study published in the Aug. 8 edition of JAMA, Illinois is ranked 13th in the world when it comes to organ donation. Still, there are more than 4,000 people in Illinois waiting for organ transplants.

"There has been a 70 percent increase in organ donation over the past six years," said Kevin Cmunt, President/CEO for Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network. "Despite this, more awareness about the need for more donors, especially from different racial/ethnic backgrounds, is critical."

The United Network for Organ Sharing reports that 82 percent of all people who are on the Illinois transplant waiting list are waiting for kidneys. In African-American communities, 90 percent of people waiting for organ transplants are waiting for kidneys. Additionally, African-Americans make up 40 percent of all people waiting for kidney transplants in Illinois. The JAMA study reports that for every 10,000 deaths in Illinois, 45 of those people become organ donors. 

"There are several barriers to organ donation that need to be removed if our state is going to be successful in providing more families opportunities to save and enhance the lives of others through organ donation," said Cmunt. "However, Illinois hospitals and advocates for donation are making positive strides in the right direction."

On Aug. 5, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law intended to prevent discrimination against living organ donors. According to a press release from Pritzker, "The new law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee for requesting or obtaining a leave of absence to undergo an organ donation and prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage or increasing premiums or rates for living donors for disability, life and long-term care insurance."

In July, President Donald Trump's Administration announced plans to improve kidney donation and transplantation across the country through a variety of measures, including reducing the numbers of kidneys discarded and developing a public awareness campaign to encourage more donors to join an organ donor registry.

According to Gift of Hope, it will take a collaborative effort if Illinois wants to make improvements in organ donation and transplantation. More than 6.5 million people in Illinois have registered as organ and tissue donors. While nearly everyone can be a tissue donor, only five in one thousand can become an organ donor when they die. Every person and organization involved in the organ donation process must do everything they can to maximize the generous gifts that organ donors and their families provide.

To join the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry, visit GiftofHope.org, call the Illinois Secretary of State Organ/Tissue Donor Program at (800) 210-2106 or visit any Illinois Driver Services Facility.

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SOURCE Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network