OneLegacy Reports That Almost Half of Organ Donors in the Los Angeles Area Are Hispanic

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OneLegacy highlights progress in Hispanic support of organ donation during Hispanic Heritage Month.

The number of Latino families who said “yes” to donation at a hospital after the death of a loved one hit a record last year, with 75% taking the opportunity to save lives. This number has grown considerably in the last decade.

Almost half of all organ donors in the greater Los Angeles area are Latino, an outstanding contribution being highlighted during Hispanic Heritage Month by OneLegacy, the non-profit, federally designated organ and tissue recovery organization serving the seven-county greater Los Angeles area.

The number of Latino families who said “yes” to donation at a hospital after the death of a loved one hit a record last year, with 75% taking the opportunity to save lives. This number has grown considerably in the last decade, when authorization rates fluctuated between 40% and 60%, proving the success of outreach efforts that targeted them as well as the generosity of this community.

The need for transplantation is also high among Hispanics, and of the more than 7,800 people on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list for a transplant in the greater Los Angeles area, almost half of the patients are Latino. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the main culprits, making kidneys the organ most in need in this community.

Paulina Guevara of East Los Angeles was 15 years old when her kidneys failed due to a hereditary condition that had already caused her father’s renal disease. Daughter and father were on dialysis at the same time, but the outcome was very different. After spending most of her teen years enduring the grueling treatment, Paulina received a kidney transplant when she was 19 years old. Her father died waiting for a compatible organ.

“A stranger gave me a healthy life and for that I will forever be grateful. Because of the shortage of organs, that chance never came for my father. After his passing, he became a cornea and tissue donor to help others. My family has been at both ends of donation and it has only brought us hope and comfort,” said Guevara, who is now 21 years old.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15, in
recognition of the contributions made by Latinos in the United States and to celebrate the group's heritage and culture. During this time, OneLegacy expands its efforts to educate Hispanics about donation in numerous ways, including numerous health events with the Mexican Consulate through-out the Southland during this time period.

The main barriers to donation in the Latino community are the myths and false beliefs held about the process. Contrary to what some people believe, no person is left to die in order to recover their organs. Only when all possible efforts to save a life have failed, and after a person has been determined to be brain dead by two neurologists in the state of California, is the option of donation available.

Many Latinos inaccurately think the Catholic Church does not support organ donation. Both Pope John Paul I and Pope Benedict XVI issued commentaries defining it as an act of love and kindness towards a fellow human being. The tradition of open casket funerals that are held by many Hispanics is also preserved after donation, because organs are retrieved through a careful and respectful surgery.

Few people know the impact that one person can have after donation. One donor can save up to eight lives by donating their organs (heart, kidneys, lungs, liver and pancreas), and improve the lives of 50 or more people by donating corneas, skin, bone and other tissues that can restore sight, heal painful injuries, and prevent amputations.

Tragically, one-third of those currently waiting for life-saving organ transplants could die due to a shortage of donors. But Californians can change that by checking “Yes!” when they apply for, or renew, a drivers license or I.D. card, or by signing up online at or in Spanish at

OneLegacy is the non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation in the seven-county greater Los Angeles area. With more than 200 hospitals, 11 transplant centers and a diverse population of 19 million, OneLegacy is the largest organ and tissue recovery organization in the world. For more information, visit

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Elena de la Cruz
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