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April 22, 2002


Actuality: approx. 12.4M

Marking National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson released 2001 statistics showing an almost 7 percent increase in organ donation, particularly among Hispanic and African American donors. Much of the overall increase stems from what's called a "living donation", when a living person donates a kidney or a portion of their liver or lung to another. There were more than 6400 living donors in 2001, up 12.5 percent from just over 5700 in 2000. Secretary Thompson says these numbers reflect a new awareness about organ donation.

Here's what a 7 percent increase means. Because of someone's selfless act of love and compassion, an additional 1,000 people who needed transplants last year, got them.

There also was a 13 percent increase in African-American donors, and a nearly 14 percent increase in Hispanic donors. This is so important -- because almost half of those waiting for organ transplants represent minorities.

We must continue to reach out to our minority communities -- to reach them with the message that organ donation saves lives.

But, we must not be satisfied. We must continue moving forward to reach all Americans about the lifesaving gift of donation.

This is just the start. We're creating a donation-friendly America -- and we're starting right here at HHS.

The release of the new statistics also commemorates the first anniversary of the department's Gift of Life Donation Initiative, a national campaign to raise awareness about the urgency of organ, tissue, marrow and blood donation. Central to the Initiative is the Workplace Partnership for Life, a public-private partnership to encourage donation among employees in the workplace. To date, more than 11-hundred partners have joined the collaboration, exceeding the project's one-year goal. Next year, HHS aims to have 5-thousand Workplace partners. More information about organ and tissue donation is available at the Gift of Life Web site at


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Last revised: April 22, 2002