Linkages to Life

View the organ donation video

Linkages to Life: Organ Tissue and Bone Marrow Donation Awareness Program is a national program sponsored by The Links, Incorporated, a not-for-profit organization of more than 12,000 women of color.

Fifty years ago, an organ transplant was a rare and risky procedure. Now more than 25,000 organ transplants are performed each year, and many transplant recipients are able to return to normal, active lives because of modern surgical techniques and drug therapies. But the supply of donated organs lags far behind the need, and 100,000 people die every year waiting for a transplant.

This need is especially great in the African American community. Through Linkages to Life, an annual church-based initiative, The Links, Incorporated and Roche are working together to get people thinking about organ, tissue and bone marrow donation and the difference each of us can make in saving lives.

Why should you care?

African Americans as a group have a greater than average need for organ and tissue transplants. That’s because more blacks have medical conditions that can cause permanent organ damage, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disorders. It’s important for African Americans to consider organ donation – and talk to their families about it — because of this great need and because similar genetics can lead to more successful transplants.

  • Nearly 90,000 people are currently waiting for life-saving organ transplants and the list continues to grow.
    — More than 27% of people waiting are African American, but only about 12% of donors are black.
  • Almost 25% of the people who died waiting for an organ transplant in 2004 were African American.
  • African Americans are four times more likely than Caucasians to develop kidney failure.
    — As a result, blacks make up 35% of the people on the kidney transplant waiting list.
  • On average, 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant.
  • Another person is added to the organ transplant waiting list every 13 minutes.
  • One organ donor can help save or improve the lives of more than 50 people.

What can you do now?

Nearly 90,000 men, women and children are waiting for a life-saving transplant, and 17 of them die each day because there aren’t enough organ donors.

Donation is a personal decision. You can choose which organs and tissues to donate – as a living donor or at the time of death. Everyone can play a part in saving lives now and in the future.

Kidneys are the most common organ donated by living donors. The remaining kidney will enlarge, doing the work of two healthy kidneys.

People may donate part of their liver, which grows back and regains full function.

Once you decide to donate your organs or tissue, it’s very important to talk to your family about your decision. You are making a donation because you care about life, and you want to share your life with others. You need to tell your family about it. They need to know your wishes.