The celebration of Black History Month provides an opportunity to also discuss the acute shortage of organ donors among African Americans.
Experts say blacks are less likely to become organ donors because of myths and misconceptions, including a fear that their organs will be harvested prematurely. A public awareness campaign under way in Pennsylvania seeks to break down barriers by stressing the facts.
African Americans make up 11 percent of the state's population, but account for nearly a third of Pennsylvania residents waiting for an organ transplant. Blacks account for about 12 percent of the state's living organ donors.
The lack of donors has a huge impact on the African American community nationally, which suffers from a higher prevalence of ailments that may require transplants, including heart disease, hypertension, and kidney failure.