About 9,000 Texans — half of whom are Hispanic — are waiting for a kidney transplant, according to Baylor Scott & White Health, which now offers services for Hispanic patients in need of a kidney transplant.
The Hispanic kidney transplant program is the first kidney transplant program of its kind in the Southwest tailored for the Hispanic and Latino communities.
The program involves education courses in Spanish by a bilingual transplant surgeon as well as bilingual group education sessions for family members.
Dr. Richard Ruiz heads the program designed to increase the number of living kidney donors among the Hispanic population.
"Hispanics comprise 40 percent of patients on the kidney transplant wait list, but the number of living donors is very low when you compare it to the white population," Diaz said.
Juan Bautista is one of the first kidney transplant recipients to go through the program.
"I have two cousins. One of them died because of kidney failure.The other one, her mom gave her a kidney, but they're back in my country and I'm here, so we didn't know much about it," Bautista said.
"Our people, Spanish people, they'd rather go to work then spend one day going to the doctors," he said.
Ruiz sees cultural barriers in his patients.
"They tend to think it's experimental. One of the information pieces I give is there are 6,000 transplants a year. That's about 100 a week, so they need to know this is a common operation," he said.
Bautista received a kidney from a living donor: his sister, Esther.
"She saved my life. She gave me life," Juan Bautista said.
Since the program started last year, five Hispanic patients have received transplants, three from living donors.
Johns Hopkins University researchers found that despite efforts over the past two decades to increase the number of black and Hispanic patients receiving kidney transplants from related or unrelated living donors, these racial-ethnic minority patients are still much less likely to undergo such transplants than white patients.
In fact, the investigators say, the disparities have worsened in the last 20 years.