1 in 5 People on Transplant Waiting List are Latino


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More than 100,000 people are waiting for a life-changing organ transplant in the US, according to the American Heart Association. 

The stark reality is that nearly 23% of those on the transplant candidate waiting list are Latino — that’s one out of every five people.  

In fact, 59% of all transplant candidates on the waiting list are Black, Latino, or Asian. These populations are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases, leading to the need for a transplant.  

In 2023, Latinos received 8,540 of the over 46,000 transplants performed, including 580 hearts, according to the American Heart Association.  

Despite the number of transplants performed and Latinos on the waiting list, organ donation remains low in the Latino community. 

Latino Organ Donorship 

While organs aren’t matched using race and ethnicity, having diversity in organ donorship can aid in matching a candidate with a donor, according to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. 

Latinos made up 15% of organ donors in 2023 — a percentage point that, while still low, is higher than a decade ago, according to the American Heart Association 

Some attribute this low organ donorship to cultural influences. 

Others believe that trust is the dominant issue.

Latinos have developed a lack of trust in the health care system due to limited access to medical care or being treated differently by medical professionals, Dr. Ravi Dhingra, medical director of the advanced heart failure and transplant program at Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, informed the American Heart Association.  

Myths and falsehoods about organ donation can also keep potential donors at bay. 

One of the biggest misconceptions is that organs can be taken without the person’s consent.  

If someone who is listed as an organ donor dies, they’ve already given consent to have their organs transplanted into another. 

If the deceased person is not listed in state or national organ registries, the decision to donate their organs is in the hands of their family. 

Another reason potential donors may be dissuaded from donating their organs is for religious reasons.  

However, Dr. Hector Ventura, section head of heart failure and heart transplant at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, told the American Heart Association that most religions support organ donation.  

Increasing Latino Organ Donorship 

With all the misinformation out there, it’s hard to know what to believe.  

That is why it’s important to dispel these falsehoods and spread awareness about organ donation and transplantation. 

For the Latino community this means sharing resources and educational materials in Spanish. 

“If you do a campaign to explain what [organ donation] is, that might change their minds,” Ventura told the American Heart Association.  

Whether it’s kidney, liver, heart, lung, or other types of transplants, the reality is that 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network. 

Many of these people are Latino, who face a higher risk for diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and other adverse health conditions that could lead to diseases that cause organ failure, according to a 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. 

People who share the same ethnicity or race are more likely to have compatible blood types and tissue markers than those who don’t, increasing the pool of potential donors for matches, according to LifeSource. 

Just ask Jesus Alexander Hércules. 

His daughter, Jade Hércules, facing terminal liver disease, was saved by a matching donor. 

“We were grateful to God for the parents who had the courage to donate their little boy’s organs because thanks to them our little girl is alive. We always think about the parents who made this miracle possible because it is truly a blessing that a year later although she is not yet walking, Jade can stand and is such a happy little girl,” Jesus said. 

When it comes down to organ donation, one donor can save the lives of eight people and help 75 others, according to HRSA 

“[Organ donors] definitely help not just one person but many patients if the organs of liver, kidney, eyes, heart and lung can be donated,” Dhingra told the American Heart Association. “People should think about it in a way that their loved ones are carried on in another person’s body.” 

Create Better Latino Health Outcomes 

Becoming an organ donor is a big decision, but there are other ways to help the health of Latino communities. 

One such is participating in clinical trials.  

Clinical trials help researchers learn how to slow, manage, and treat diseases, like the ones that cause organ failure.  

Latino volunteers can help make sure emerging new treatments or therapies work for the Latino population.  

“Latinos in clinical trials are not only helping themselves, but they’re also building a future with better treatments that can help their families in the future,” said Dr. Amelie Ramirez, director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research and Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio.  

With help from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, Ramirez is leveraging the Salud America! communication program to feature clinical trial success stories, host webinars, and promote open clinical trials 

To find a clinical trial, visit the Salud America! clinical trials page 

In San Antonio, search the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio’s Find a Clinical Trial database to learn more about available clinical trials and eligibility requirements. 

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of clinical trial participants are Latinos

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