Organ Donation in the United States: The Tale of the African-American Journey of Moving From the Bottom to the Top

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Transplantation Proceedings








© 2016 Elsevier Inc. Objective The purpose was to review the increase of minority organ donation. Methods The methodology was based on the efforts of the DC Organ Donor Program and the Dow Take Initiative Program that focused on increasing donors among African Americans (AAs). From 1982 to 1988, AA donor card signings increased from 20/month to 750/month, and Black donations doubled. A review of the data, including face-to-face grassroots presentations combined with national media, was conducted. Gallup polls in 1985 and 1990 indicated a tripling of black awareness of transplantation and the number of blacks signing donor cards. Based on the applied successful methodologies, in 1991, the National Minority Organ Tissues Transplant Education Program was established targeting AA, Hispanic, Asian, and other ethnic groups. A review of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database from 1990 to 2010 was accomplished. Results Nationally, ethnic minority organ donors per million (ODM) increased from 8–10 ODM (1982) to 35 ODM (AA and Latino/Hispanics) in 2002. In 1995, ODMs were white 34.2, black 33.1, Hispanic 31.5, and Asian 17.9. In 2010, Black organ donors per million totaled 35.36 versus white 27.07, Hispanic 25.59, and Asian 14.70. Conclusions Based on the data retrieved from UNOS in 2010, blacks were ranked above whites and other ethnic minority populations as the number one ethnic group of organ donors per million in the US.

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