5 Barriers to Minority Organ Donation
National Minority Donor Awareness Day is celebrated annually on the 1st of August. MOTTEP, the Minority Organ Tissue and Transplant Education Program created this observance day in 1996 to focus on education and increasing minority organ donors. In this video, How Do You Say Thank You? African American donor families and recipients tell their poignant and inspiring stories about organ donation.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
There are five barriers commonly cited by minorities as their reasons for not volunteering to be an organ donor.
- Lack of Information and Awareness. Many minorities may not realize that of the more than 100,000 people on the UNOS Wait List, more than half (51%) are minority. Minorities, in particular African-Americans disproportionately suffer from hypertension and diabetes which can and often does progress to end-stage renal failure. Of the 27% of African Americans on the UNOS Wait List, the majority awaits a kidney.
- Religious Myths or Misrepresentations. Many minorities believe that their religion may prohibit organ donation or that it will not be possible to have an open-casket funeral service. The truth of the matter is that all major organized religions approve of organ and tissue donation because it is an act of charity. Removal of organs is done through a non-disfiguring surgery that does not change the appearance of the body for an open-casket funeral service.
- General Distrust of Healthcare Providers. (see Fear)
- Fear. Many minorities fear that they will be declared dead prematurely, that every medical intervention will not be pursued if they are organ donors. This is simply not true. Hospitals must follow any advanced directives have in place. Additionally, an increasing number of states have developed strict laws and protocols for declaring brain death and how to proceed.
- Racism in the Healthcare System. Often minorities believe that all donated organs go to white patients. Truthfully, the UNOS match system is designed so that the recipient with the greatest biological compatibility for the organ receives that organ. Studies reveal that the best matches often occur between individuals of the same racial/ethnic group.
Organ donation is an incredible act of charity. A single donor can extend the lives of 5 individuals with their organs alone and many more if they also choose to donate tissue as well. It is the ultimate gift—the gift of life. Another inspirational story of organ donation is shared in the book III Gifts. Check it out or share your own story about organ donation by leaving a comment.