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Minorities linger on transplant lists

PEORIA -- Thousands of people are in need of organ transplants across the state.
PEORIA -- Thousands of people are in need of organ transplants across the state. The wait is often even longer for minorities. This is the first day of Minority Donor Awareness Week. Eugene Daniel reports on one man whose life was hanging in the balance because of that wait.

For as long as he can remember, Juventino Arteaga has battled health problems.

"I got diabetes when I was like 4-years old. The doctors, at the time, said, 'he won't live to see 15.'"

At 38-years old, he's proving doctors wrong, but his health has grown worse over the years.

"After 34-years of diabetes, it's just my pancreas went bad."

He also needed a new kidney. For two years, he waited for a match.

"I wanted to give up, but, at the same time, I knew I couldn't."

"The essence of organ and tissue donations in the African-American and Hispanic communities is critical."

Jackie Lynch works with Gift of Hope. The agency helps people in need of organ and tissue transplants. More than half of the state's waiting list is minorities, but they are the fewest registered donors.

"There are so few African-American donors, yet so many waiting. They wait longer, and in many cases, they die waiting."

He says more minorities should know what's going on. As for "Tino," his match finally came in June after a young man passed away.

"I'd tell him, 'thanks.' To his family, I'd have to tell them their son didn't die in vain."

Now Tino, a husband and father of five, has a new life. Lynch says, for every available organ, there are 5,000 people waiting for that phone call. After his surgery, Arteaga registered to donate.
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