Hispanic Heritage Month 2018 – Delivering Vida Hundreds of Miles Away

 In Stories

Each year, the United States observes National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15 by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of individuals whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America.

The observance started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was later expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period. It was officially enacted into law on August 17, 1988.

Donor Network West serves a large geographical area consisting of 40 counties and 13.5 million people in Northern California and Nevada. In that area, Hispanics make up 37% of the nearly 10,000 people in need of an organ transplant. This makes Hispanics the largest ethnic group represented on the transplant waitlist of this very diverse donation service area.

Last month, a group of dedicated Hispanic volunteers from various cities of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area traveled over one hundred miles to Salinas, California to bring a message of hope as part of a special campaign.

They had been invited to Natividad, a hospital in Monterey County where Hispanics represent nearly 60% of the population. There, they shared their stories, provided organ and tissue information, and helped register individuals as organ and tissue donors.

“We were happy to be able to bring the message of life to an area where the number of people registered as donors is lower. With every person who registered, I felt that I was contributing a grain of sand for an amazing cause, another grain of hope for those who are still waiting,” says Hilda Martinez, a kidney recipient from Richmond, CA.

donate life ambassadors
From left: Hilda Martinez, Israel and Mariela Sanchez, Luz Rosales, Maria Isabel Guevara

The donor designation rate – the percentage of those who are eligible and have registered as organ and tissue donors – in Monterey County is 52%, compared to 67% in the City and County of San Francisco.

Donate Life Ambassadors are the heart and soul of our Community Education program at Donor Network West. They touch the hearts of those in their communities by sharing their stories and spreading hope to heal through organ and tissue donation. We celebrate the contribution of our Embajadores and thank them for bringing a message of Vida everywhere they go.

One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people and a tissue donor can heal more than 75 others. Anyone can register as a donor at the DMV or at DonorNetworkWest.org.