Experts pleading for Hispanics to join organ-donor list

HOUSTON – Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely than the general population to suffer kidney failure and need a transplant, according to infórmate.org.

For those patients, that means a life of time-consuming dialysis treatments.

Experts say the only way to offset this growing problem is to have more of the Hispanic population on the donor list.

Consider 36-year-old Erick Moreno, who has been on the transplant list for four years.

He's lost 80 pounds, diets, goes to dialysis and waits.

"Unfortunately, normal, everyday tasks become difficult," Moreno said.

The beeps, screens and needles that go with this treatment are not always comfortable, but he says this gives him motivation.

"I want to live and I want to see tomorrow, that's what really motivates me to keep going," he said.

Medical experts say Hispanic patients make up half of the state's transplant list.

Thursday, doctors from across the state held a symposium trying to come up with solutions to balance the system.

"The Hispanic population in Texas is going to be a majority relatively soon. So, if majority of people in our state don't support organ donation as strongly as they could, then we're not going to have donors to provide transplants for all parties of our population," said Dr. Mark Hobeika, transplant surgeon at Memorial Hermann Hospital/UT Health.

Moreno said he wants that education among minorities. He hopes the education eliminates stereotypes and saves lives like his.

"I'd like for the Spanish community to really take care of themselves, the Hispanic community thinks if something hurts, 'I'll just wait.' They hold off to go see a physician. The best thing to do is just to see a physician and get yourself taken care of," Moreno said.

The common reasons for people not wanting to be a donor include religious beliefs, financial concerns or worries about future quality of life.

For more answers to those questions click here: infórmate.org

For help navigating the Texas Medical Center during a transplant surgery, Nora's Home offers affordable housing and support.