Local Observation Draws Attention to Critical Need

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Salud “I am just a regular guy, and there are regular people who need transplants every day,” said Cook County Commissioner Robert B. Steele. “My sister was kind enough to donate her kidney to me and invest in me. I am here today to give my return on investment and promote organ donation because life is worth living and life is worth giving.” To commemorate the 15th annual National Minority Donor Awareness Day on August 1, Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network partnered with Commissioner Steele and Mount Sinai Hospital (Sinai Health System) to encourage people of all minority groups —African-Americans, Latinos and others—to join the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry and talk to their family members about their decision.

During the ceremony, Gift of Hope’s ambassador, Alejandro Rodriguez, proudly introduced his “new sister”, Alexis Sloan, who was visiting from Pittsburgh. After the death of his brother, boxer Francisco “Paco” Rodriguez, also known as “El Niño Azteca”, Sloan received Paco’s heart and a second chance at life. “This beautiful story showcases generosity and the gift of life across ethnicities in the multicultural community,” said Raiza Mendoza, Latino Outreach Coordinator. “These families are forever united, and Paco’s heroism is displayed every day through Alexis’ bright smile and outlook on life. We must do more to create more happy endings for the thousands of others still waiting for a transplant.” In Illinois, nearly 5,000 people are on the waiting list, including 2,017 African-Americans and 772 Latinos. Minorities make up many of the people who receive organs but very few of those who donate. For more information about Gift of Hope and organ and tissue donation or to join Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry, please visit giftofhope.org.

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