Organ donation advocate Bobby Howard gave an impressive talk to the Emory Transplant Center today. He said that when he started his work with Lifelink Georgia 14 years ago, just 8 percent of donated kidneys in GA came from African Americans, but that figure has increased to more than 30 percent now.
African Americans receive the majority of kidney transplants in GA, because of the prevalence of diabetes and hypertension leading to renal failure, he said.
Howard (more about him) is originally from Pittsburgh (where I grew up) and a former pro football player. He was a very effective speaker.
What I found interesting was: he said when he started out, the main objection to organ donation he experienced was from religious people who wanted to have all their organs when they got to heaven.
That was relatively easy to address compared with the remaining issue: mistrust of the healthcare system. People he talks with are worried that declared organ donors will receive inadequate care because doctors only want their organs! Given the experience of various minority communities with medicine, such mistrust makes sense even if it does impair organ donation and saving lives.
Makes me wonder if everyone was a declared organ donor, how would that affect transplant waiting lists? That deserves another post.