Number of Organ Donors Increases 7% in 2001; Minority, Living Donations Rise
The number of organ donors rose nearly 7% last year, due in part to an increase in the number of Hispanic and African-American donors and an increase in living donors, USA Today reports. According to HHS statistics released yesterday, 12,522 people donated organs last year, up from 11,711 in 2000 (USA Today, 4/23). The number of Hispanic donors jumped 14% last year, to 1,492, and the number of African-American donors rose 13%, to 1,620. Officials attributed the increase to expanded outreach and education programs targeting minorities (Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 4/23). In addition, the number of living donors increased 13.4%, to 6,445, in 2001, while donations from cadavers increased only 1.6%, to 6,081. For more than 10 years, the number of living donors has increased more rapidly than the number of cadaver donors, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports (AP/Houston Chronicle, 4/23). HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson released the statistics to mark the beginning of National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week and the first anniversary of Thompson's organ donation initiative. Last April, Thompson launched the "Gift of Life Organ Donation Initiative" to increase awareness about the need for organ, tissue, marrow and blood donations (HHS release, 4/22). The government's organ donation campaigns have focused on increasing cadaveric donations because such donations can provide several viable organs, the AP/Chronicle reports. Regarding the relatively small increase in cadaveric donations last year, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said, "It's not as good as I would like, but it's an increase" (AP/Houston Chronicle, 4/23).