Honoring Organ and Tissue Donors During Hispanic Heritage Month
Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month 2023: Hispanic Heritage Month is a national celebration that recognizes the contributions of all Hispanic and Latinx Americans throughout history and today. It’s celebrated from September 15 – October 15 annually with different events at all types of institutions, organizations, and businesses. You can find a list of how to participate locally in Colorado or Wyoming.
The need for lifesaving organ transplants affects all communities regardless of race, ethnicity, age, or sex; however, when it comes to race, there is an even greater need for organ transplants among diverse communities. Transplants rely on the generosity of organ and tissue donors and there is a need for more people of color to sign up as organ, eye, and tissue donors in our region and in our country.
In 2023, the theme for Hispanic Heritage Month is “Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America”. The theme signifies the impact Hispanic people have had on our nation economically, politically, and socially.
The History and Significance of Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month, established in the United States in 1988, coincides with the independence anniversaries of Latin American countries. It honors the contributions of Hispanic and Latinx communities, from civil rights leaders like Cesar Chavez to cultural icons like Selena Quintanilla. This celebration aims to foster awareness, appreciation, and unity by educating the public about the rich diversity of Hispanic and Latinx cultures, promoting inclusivity, and acknowledging their significant impact on American society.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Importance and Meaning
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month holds profound importance as it allows us to acknowledge and honor the invaluable contributions and diverse cultures of Hispanic and Latino Americans. It serves as a powerful platform for promoting inclusivity and diversity in our society, fostering a sense of unity among all communities. This observance raises awareness about the rich heritage and remarkable achievements of Hispanics, encouraging mutual understanding and appreciation, ultimately contributing to a more vibrant and inclusive American tapestry.
The Importance of Organ Donation within the Hispanic Community
The importance of organ donation within the Hispanic community cannot be overstated. It is crucial to educate the community about the urgent need for organ, eye, and tissue donation, as Hispanics are disproportionately affected by the scarcity of available organs for transplant. In Colorado and Wyoming, the demand for organ transplants among Hispanic individuals is on the rise, with a growing number of people waiting for life-saving donations. Around 24,0000 people from Hispanic communities in the United States are waiting for a lifesaving transplant, with 350 of those people in Colorado and Wyoming.
Advocating for increased donor registration among Hispanics is essential to address this disparity and save more lives. Organizations like Donor Alliance, a nonprofit which aims to save and heal lives through organ and tissue donation for transplantation in Colorado and most of Wyoming, plays a pivotal role in raising awareness about the importance of organ donation, highlighting the significance of community engagement and support to meet the pressing needs of the Hispanic population and ensure access to lifesaving transplants.
Donor Alliance: Honoring Organ and Tissue Donors, Celebrating Lives Saved, and Recognizing Those Who Wait from Hispanic Communities.
As we are honoring Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to highlight a few local, national, and international stories about donation and transplantation. Recognizing the gifts of life these donors provided after their death is just as important as recognizing achievements throughout history.
MEET DIANA, A DONOR FROM DENVER, CO
Diana was a quiet teenager who cared about others. She loved cats and playing with Legos with her little brother. When she grew up, she hoped to have her own show on the Food Network. Diana was also known for her brutal honesty and sassy personality. Sadly, Diana tragically passed away in a car crash at the age of 16. As the family’s primary communicator, her sister, Gaby, helped her Spanish-speaking parents understand the importance of donation. At only 21-years-old, Gaby navigated her close-knit family through the organ donation process. In honor of Diana’s caring nature her family decided she should give the gift of life. Diana’s kidneys saved the lives of a man and woman, while her liver was safely delivered to Missouri to save a baby girl. Diana’s family has remained in contact with the baby’s family, and according to Gaby, the little girl is doing well.
MEET JOE, A DONOR FROM UVALDE, TX (STORY USED WITH PERMISSION FROM SAN ANTONIO EYE BANK)
After an unthinkable tragedy, a decision to help others was honored. Joe’s wife Irma was one of the teachers that died at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. Joe tragically died a few days later, and as a registered donor, he was able to give the gift of sight to two individuals. Read more about Joe’s love for his family, his community, and his donation legacy here.
MEET GUADALUPE, A RECIPIENT FROM CASPER, WY
Guadalupe was born in Lima, Peru; in 2010, she moved to Casper, Wyoming. Guadalupe went for a routine examination when her medical team discovered her kidney function was abnormal. Guadalupe learned she had stage three chronic kidney disease due to genetics and would need a kidney transplant to save her life. Read more about Guadalupe’s transplant journey here.
MEET JOSÉ, A DONOR WHO IMMIGRATED FROM MEXICO (STORY USED WITH PERMISSION FROM SOUTH TEXAS BLOOD AND TISSUE)
Jose was known for his generosity. He was always willing to help anyone in need. In 2017, two months after a heart attack, Jose passed away, and his family made the decision to donate his tissue. “We later found out that some of his tissue went into dental grafts, which was kind of beautiful because he was a dentist in Mexico.” Jose was proud of his Mexican heritage, and his legacy lives on through the lives of his family, including three grandsons, his wife of 40 years, and countless other children and grandchildren he treated as his own. “It’s so important for there to be more representation in donors – minority donors – and it’s really cool to think that my dad was part of that.” – donor’s son, Emmanuel.
MEET SHIRLEY, A RECIPIENT ORIGINALLY FROM COSTA RICA
Shirley Aviles, originally from Costa Rica, was 18 years old when she was first diagnosed with lupus, just two years after her mother passed away from it at the youngageof38. Lupus is a disease that occurs when your immune system attacks your own healthy tissues and organs. Shirley understood the severity of her illness and underwent various treatments through the years to manage it so that she could continue living her life anormal. She was determined to fight lupus with everything she had in honor of her mother.
On January 11, 2023, after undergoing dialysis for more than a year, Shirley received the call that changed her life forever–a kidney was available and was a match. Thanks to a heroic deceased organ donor, Shirley was given a second chance at life. “I Wish I could have met the person that donated their kidney to me. I don’t know who they were, but I am so appreciative of my donor. God bless them and their family,” Shirley said.
As always, thank you for your support of organ, eye, and tissue donation. If you already signed up to be a donor, please take some time to discuss your decision with your loved ones. For those not registered to be an organ and tissue donor, we would encourage you to do so & join us in honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month. One heroic decision can save and heal so many lives!