The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in Belcourt is hosting an educational event on organ donation and transplantation. The “Let’s Celebrate & Educate” event falls on the 1-year anniversary of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa becoming the first tribe in the country to add organ donation to their tribal identification documents.
Joan Azure is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and the advocate behind the Greyson Initiative; the initiative that helped put organ donation registration on tribal documents.
Azure says educational events like this are a major part of encouraging more people to consider organ donation.
“We will talk about the myths that go along with organ donation. Some people do not know how this process works, so we wanted to kind of put some of those myths to rest and just talk about how this all comes about. We are going to talk about how to talk with your family about organ donation. Many times, people check the box and don’t educate their family, so when the time comes that those decisions have to be made, the family maybe doesn’t agree with it. And then the donation process, exactly what do we do. “
Azure says there aren’t enough organs to meet the need. Only about 20 percent of people who identify as Native American say “yes” to donation when approached in the hospital, compared to 60 percent of people who identify as white.
Azure says some tribes have beliefs that prevent them from donating organs, and that should be respected, but she hopes that the people who can donate, will.
“I encourage anyone who has that little iffy thing about, “oh should I be a donor or shouldn’t I, oh, how does this work, you know, what impact will I have if I’m a donor?” We’re also encouraging our high school students to come in and learn more about organ donation. They are getting to that age where they can make that decision as soon as they want to check the box or not. We’re looking for people who are at that crossroad of “should I or shouldn’t I,” in hopes that bringing education to them will bring them to the side of “yes I want to do this.” “
The event will be on Wednesday, November 15th, from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Sky Dancer Casino & Resort in Belcourt.