Sarah Goodwin

Kathi Ovnic
Holly Korschun
April 17, 1999



f a c t s


  • More than half (52 percent) of the nearly 900 Georgians awaiting organ transplantation are African American.
  • Fewer than 12 percent of all organ donations come from African Americans.
    • Some of those African Americans on waiting lists may continue on dialysis or even die because no 'matches' can be found for their kidneys; those 'matches' are most likely to be found with African-American donors.
  • In the past two years, organ donations from African-Americans have declined statewide.
    • Georgians who sign organ donor cards when applying for or renewing driver's licenses receive discounts.
  • Nationally, about 55,000 persons are on transplant waiting lists and about 4,000 of these persons die each year while awaiting a transplant. That means every day about 55 Americans will receive a needed transplant but 10 will die because of organ unavailability.
    • In 1995, 27 percent of persons waiting for organ transplants were black, yet only 11.5 percent of all cadaveric donors were black (84 percent were white).
  • Organ donation has become an increasingly important public health issue. Only about 5,500 deaths in the United States each year result in organ donation, compared with an estimated potential of 8,000-15,000 donors. Moreover, almost 62,000 patients are currently awaiting transplants and about 4,000 patients die each year becauseof the critical shortage of transplantable organs.A major barrier to donation today is low rates of family consent.
    • Nationally, blacks constitute 12.5 percent of the U.S. population, yet comprise more than 34 percent of patients on the kidney transplant waiting list. Since the late 1980s, donor education campaigns in the African-American community have been limited to increasing cadaveric donations. In 1991, the Office of the Inspector General reported that black transplant candidates waited almost twice as long as white candidates for kidney transplants.

    Analysis of data from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) shows that white candidates are removed from the national kidney transplant waiting list by living related donors at a rate more than three times greater than that for blacks.

    ORGAN DONATION (contacts and links)

    Georgia Leadership Commission on Organ, Tissue, Blood and Marrow Donation Among African Americans:

    <> or <>

    Center for Transplantation: The Emory University Hospital Center for Transplantation is among the nation's 10 busiest sites for organ, tissue, blood and marrow transplantation. Specially trained teams of surgeons, nurses and other professionals perform about 600 transplant procedures each year, including the following: bone marrow, heart, lung, kidney, liver and cornea. Georgia's first liver, double-lung and pediatric heart transplants were performed by center staff.

    In addition, the center operates the Renaissance Project, a statewide donor education program. <> or <>

    Institute for Minority Health Research of Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health was established in 1993 to conduct research and provide interventions for a number of health issues faced by ethnic and racial minorities in the United States. A number of the institute's programs have received regional and national acclaim, including its efforts to increase awareness and dialogue of AIDS and HIV in the African-American faith community and the innovative Kids Alive & Loved (KAL) youth violence prevention and support program. Many families of children killed due to violence face the decision of organ and tissue donation. Founder of the program and the Institute's coordinator for community outreach, Bernadette Leite, received in Spring 1998 both a Jefferson Award for Public Service from the American Institute for Public Service and a 1998 11Alive Community Service Award from Atlanta's WXIA-TV. Additionally, she is one of the Turner Broadcasting System's Super-17 Community Service Award Recipients for 1999.

    <> or <>

    United Network for Organ Sharing: The transplant community is joined under a nationwide umbrella: the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS.

    UNOS administers the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and the U.S. Scientific Registry on Organ Transplantation under contracts with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The U.S. Scientific Registry is the most complete medical database in the world, tracking

    all solid organ transplants since Oct. 1, 1987. Through the UNOS Organ Center, organ donors are matched to waiting recipients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. UNOS ensures that all patients have a fair chance at receiving the organ they

    need -- regardless of age, sex, race, lifestyle, religion, financial or social status. <>

    The Georgia Coalition on Donation: The Georgia Coalition is a nonprofit, statewide alliance created in 1995 to educate the public regarding organ and tissue donation. It is funded by a grant from the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust.404/ 266-8884.

    Minority Organ/Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP): With support from the National Institutes of Health and Howard University, this campaign is aimed at increasing awareness about donation and transplantation in the African-American community.

    LifeLink of Georgia's Minority Donation Education program (MDEP): MDEP was developed in 1994 for LifeLink of Georgia, the state's nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement agency, to address the disproportionate need for organ transplants in the African-American community. It is an educational program targeted toward African-American health professionals and those health care providers who cater to a predominantly African-American population.

    TransWeb: A web site devoted entirely to transplantation and donation. <>

    U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Organ Donation Web site: Call 888-90-SHARE for an organ donation brochure. <>


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