Have a Heart

Supervisor Katy Tang increases citywide awareness about how organ donations can save lives.

(Courtesy Photo)

Organ transplants may seem like the stuff of Grey’s Anatomy, but for many people with chronic diseases, a new kidney or liver is their only hope for survival. Now, one supervisor is working to increase awareness around organ donations — particularly in the Asian community.

Earlier this month, Sup. Katy Tang introduced a resolution that would declare April “National Donate Life Month,” to encourage residents to register as organ and tissue donors.

In San Francisco, there are approximately 665 people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, 291 of whom are Asian. But according to the United Network of Organ Sharing, only 77 organ and tissue donors in the entire state of California are of Asian descent.

Last year, only 67 San Franciscans received transplants, but that may change: S.F. public schools will soon launch a new curriculum educating students about how organ donations save lives. The Department of Public Health has also committed to working with local physicians in Chinatown, the Mission, and the Castro on the issue — all neighborhoods that have a lower donor registration rate than the rest of the city.

“I hope that by educating ourselves, our residents, and especially our youth, we will inspire people to spread the word about the impact of organ and tissue donation,” Tang says. “Sometimes we don’t think we have the ability to make a lasting impact — but that is simply not true. Organ donation really does save lives and that is something we can all make a choice to do.”

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