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Gift of Hope encourages Latino men to make health a priority

The lack of early detection of certain diseases can have major consequences that lead to organ failure and the need for transplants.

 

ITASCA, Ill. (June 16, 2015) – June is National Men’s Health Month, and as Father’s Day quickly approaches Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network encourages men and their loved ones to discuss the importance of leading healthy lifestyles and seeking timely medical advice to avoid serious health complications.

 

The lack of early detection of certain diseases can have major consequences that lead to organ failure and the need for transplants. The most prevalent health threats that Hispanic men face are diabetes, liver disease, hypertension and obesity. Type 2 diabetes, often referred to as the “silent killer,” displays no visual symptoms at the onset, but complications include loss of eyesight, stroke and kidney failure. Liver disease, which can be genetic or caused by factors such as obesity, can gradually or in some rare cases rapidly damage the liver beyond repair. Heart disease, when left untreated, can produce blood clots and lead to a heart attack or stroke and sometimes death. Latino males have a disproportionately higher risk of suffering from these medical conditions than males in the general population due in part to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Additionally, Hispanic men often have a passive approach to their health and do not make regular medical check-ups a priority.

 

“Hispanic men place great emphasis and pride on supporting their families and being great providers; there is nothing more important to them than living up to this social expectation,” explains Raiza Mendoza, Manager of Hispanic Affairs. “At the same time, when Latino men fall ill, the entire family suffers severe emotional and financial distress. This is why it is crucial that our families make healthcare maintenance and illness prevention open topics of discussion.”

 

Marco Antonio de Leon is one of many Hispanic males who have struggled with serious health issues. As a 48-year-old father of six and grandfather of two children, he did not have the physical wellness or energy he needed to spend quality time with his family. He used a pacemaker for seven years until one day he suffered a heart attack. After that episode, he learned that he needed a heart transplant and that the wait to receive a heart from a compatible donor could take up to three years. However, after only two months on the waiting list, he received a call from the hospital with the news that they had found a heart for him.

 

“As a father, watching my children grow up and having the energy to play with my grandchildren is priceless,” De Leon says. “Health is everything, and thanks to the transplant I can now look forward to sharing many more years with my family members, who need me and depend on me.”

 

Currently, more than 3,000 men are on the Illinois transplant waiting list. More than 2,500 of them are waiting for kidney transplants, 250 need liver transplants and 150 need heart transplants. In celebration of National Men’s Health Month and Father’s Day, Gift of Hope reminds Hispanic families that illness prevention and early detection of diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart and liver disease are key to living a long and healthy life with loved ones, and encourages Hispanic men to make health and regular doctor visits a priority. (SOURCE: Gift of Hope)

 

Photo caption:

Marco Antonio de Leon is one of many Hispanic males who have struggled with serious health issues. Photo: Gift of Hope

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