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Sunday, Jun 26, 2022

Tackling the Healthcare Inequity Challenge

Healthcare inequities in the United States have existed for a very long time. These inequities were brought to the forefront with the disproportionate rates of infection and death caused by COVID-19 among communities of color. Another less talked about health disparity that continues to haunt our society is found in the imbalances in organ and tissue transplant rates.

Forty percent of the U.S. population are persons of color, yet those communities make up nearly 60% of the 107,000 Americans waiting for a transplant – including 29% African American and 21% Hispanic. The increased need for donation and transplantation in these populations stems from the higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease that contribute to organ failure among these communities.

Working to help correct this inequity is OneLegacy, the nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern counties. OneLegacy works with more than 200 hospitals and 10 transplant centers – as well as sheriffs’ and coroners’ offices – to serve this diverse population of 20 million people, as well as waiting recipients across the country.

In the OneLegacy service area, persons of color receive 73% of all transplants and make up 67% of deceased donors, but constitute 82% of its waitlist, so OneLegacy is committed

“Health disparities exist among communities of color for a multitude of reasons, including financial and cultural barriers to access healthcare, a multi-generational distrust of the medical system, traditional beliefs around death and dying, and the false presumption that the organ transplant system discriminates” said OneLegacy CEO Tom Mone. “The truth of the matter is that the opportunity to donate and to receive a lifesaving transplant knows no national, racial, ethnic nor religious boundaries nor sexual orientation; it simply helps those in greatest need.”

OneLegacy believes that Los Angeles’ multi-cultural and multi-ethnic community makes it imperative that every business work to foster diversity and equality, to embrace all cultures and influences and to continually explore ways to reflect plurality and inclusion in every dimension of their enterprise. Towards that end, here are some of the things OneLegacy is doing:

• For the past two years, OneLegacy has been conducting a series of virtual Town Halls (some bilingual), featuring hosts and guests of diverse backgrounds. Its goal is to increase awareness of donation and transplantation in minority communities and to bridge the gap between the demand for organ transplants and supply of donated organs. The next event will take place on March 30 during National Kidney Month and will focus on strategies to improve kidney health and donation in the Hispanic and Latino community.
• On February 14, OneLegacy hosted a panel discussion with African American leaders from across the state, focusing on equity in organ donation. The panel took place on National Donor Day, which fell in the middle of Black History Month and American Heart Month, providing a natural connection for the discussion and laying the foundation for future conversations among these communities.
• As part of its goal to inspire more Hispanics on the power of organ, eye and tissue donation, OneLegacy and their Embajadores has a weekly presence at the Mexican Consulate of Los Angeles through their Ventanilla de Salud health program. OneLegacy also participates at numerous Hispanic health fairs and community events throughout the year, providing outreach to local Latinx communities.
• In a proactive effort to encourage more people of color to register to be a donor, OneLegacy has a presence at numerous DMV locations throughout Southern California, with an emphasis on locations in Inglewood, Compton and other strategically selected offices where the lowest donor registration rates exist.
• OneLegacy is engaged in a social media outreach campaign to share facts and figures about healthcare access and disparities among diverse communities. OneLegacy has also produced public service announcements highlighting health resources available for African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans in Southern California. This effort is designed to encourage communities of color to seek appropriate health care whenever needed and to register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor.
• OneLegacy continues to identify partner organizations with whom they can share ideas and resources while growing together. Most recently, OneLegacy partnered with Zeta Phi Beta’s local chapter in Southern California, Pi Zeta, and the Young Visionaries Leadership Academy in San Bernardino to decorate NASCAR driver Joey Gase’s racecar with pink donor dots, representing a symbol of hope and support for those around the country who are currently waiting for a lifesaving organ or tissue transplant.

“We live in a time of heightened awareness of the significance of diversity and inclusion in every walk of life,” said Mone. “With ever-increasing understanding, we are appreciating that the splendor in our differences makes us a better and stronger society. That is why we are committed to making sure that diversity and inclusion is an integral part of everything we do, that every voice is heard, that every person is respected and that every life is cherished. We do this and more not because it is fashionable, but for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do.”

For more information, visit OneLegacy.org.

Return to the 2022 Diversity, Equity + Inclusion Awards recap

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