By Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association
I’m lucky to work with so many people who share a passion for helping others. Together we work to improve our health care system and make tangible differences to the communities across our state. It’s rewarding to see the results in action as our communities grow healthier. I find the same rewards knowing that I can also make a difference to my community on a much more personal level.
I’m an organ donor, and while nobody wants to think about passing away and leaving their family behind, I know that as a donor my organs can save or improve the lives of many people. I have personal experience of this. My best friend’s daughter, born the same month as my eldest son, needed a liver transplant due to a genetic issue. She was put on the list at age 1 and finally got a liver at age 8, at a point where she was very, very sick. I was up all night while little Hannah was in surgery. The results have been miraculous, and I’m so thankful to the family that chose to donate organs. I encourage you to join me as a donor, especially if you are a man or woman of color — and to help spread the word to others in your circle.
While transplants can take place between different racial or ethnic groups, transplants are often more successful when they are matched between individuals with the same racial or ethnic background. People of African American/Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native and multiracial descent currently make up nearly 58 percent of individuals on the national organ transplant waiting list, according to Donate Life. These communities are in great need of more organ and tissue donors.
Equity of care is an area of special focus for WSHA. Everyone deserves great care every time at our hospitals and health systems, regardless of their racial or ethnic background. This includes having access to potentially life-saving or life-changing organ transplants.
July 9-22 marks Donate Life ECHO (Every Community Has Opportunity), and a time to draw attention to the need to better serve people of color in need of transplants. Registering as an organ donor is easy (you can do it online here). Your participation as an organ donor can truly be a life-saver for somebody in need.