Lack of Awareness, Religious, Spiritual Beliefs Prevent Some Minorities from Becoming Organ Donors
Blacks and Hispanics constitute the largest percentage of individuals in need of an organ transplant, but the groups are the least likely to be donors and wait almost twice as long as others to receive organ transplants, the St. Petersburg Times reports. According to the Times, health professionals call the situation a "deadly disparity."
Organ transplant patients are more likely to find a genetically compatible match from an individual in their own ethnic group. In 2007, blacks made up 15% of organ donors and Hispanics made up 14%. Even fewer American Indians are organ donors, according to the Times. Experts maintain that lack of awareness, religious and spiritual beliefs, and an overall distrust of the medical system are among the reasons for low minority organ donation.
Community outreach efforts, such as those that provide bilingual donor awareness information, have proven to be successful in raising donation rates somewhat among minorities, according to the Times. Donor rates among minorities were 11% for blacks and 9% for Hispanics more than 10 years ago.
Aisha Huertas, public outreach and marketing coordinator for Donate Life America, said, "When you factor in the number of minorities that are waiting and compare that to the number who are giving, there is a huge difference, and it points to a huge problem." The situation "is dire," she added (Hutcheson, St. Petersburg Times, 8/26).