Multicultural News

Hoosiers help set record for organ transplants through 2020 surge in signups

"We have been faced with the idea of making decisions based on our passing, and I think people are more welcoming to having those conversations," said Elliott Stubblefield with the Indiana Donor Network on Jan. 10, 2022. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hoosiers really stepped up to become organ donors in 2020. Helping set the record for the number of organs able to be transplanted. But, the Indiana Donor Network said a great need still exists for more support during the pandemic.

About 100,000 people are on the national transplant list. Black people account for 25% of that. Indiana Donor Network representatives says people mapping out their new year can add one scary but critical conversation to the mix: organ donation.

Levell Pace is one of the millions who opted in to save a life. His contribution was honored at this year’s Rose Parade Donate Life Float. Pace was a South Bend police officer who died in 2002 after suffering a heart attack. It happened just days before being added to the kidney transplant waiting list.

“We have been faced with the idea of making decisions based on our passing, and I think people are more welcoming to having those conversations,” said Elliott Stubblefield with the Indiana Donor Network.

Conversations that happen near the end of life aren’t easy ones to have, but Pace and many other Hoosiers are having those talks. In 2020, the Indiana Donor Networks saw its largest increase yet in the number of people signing up to be organ donors.

“That’s a very powerful number when you look at the perspective of how they were such a great need,” Stubblefield said.

Of the 100,000 people on the waiting list, Black people account for 25,000.

“It’s almost 90,000 people that are currently waiting on a kidney transplant, and we know that in our community it is very indicative of high blood pressure, and diabetes and things like that.”

Indiana Donor Network representatives said they’ve made some strides in spreading donor information, and, for families faced with the immediate reality of organ donation, the network has added another layer of outreach.

“We realized if we created our own intensive care unit right here, provide our own family dynamic, so that people could spend their time with their family members, that it reduces the time and wear and tear on transplant hospitals,” Stubblefield said.

Indiana Donor Network representatives said people may sign up to be organ donors at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and their family members never know. So, having conversations with loved ones to express those wishes are important.

MORE STORIES