HBCU Medical Schools Work to End Racial Disparities in Organ Donation

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Some of the countries HBCU Medical Schools just announced a plan to partner with organ transplant advocacy groups to encourage more African Americans to register as organ donors. According to Associated Pressfour HBCU medical schools will work with the organ donation advocacy group and the association of organ procurement organizations on plans to reduce racial inequities in organ donation and build more trust in the system among people of color.

The announcement of May 5 comes after that of February 2022 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which pointed to racial inequities in the nation’s organ transplant system. For example, although blacks are three times more likely suffer from kidney failure than white people, they tend to wait longer for donor organs and ultimately are less likely to receive an organ transplant.

HBCUs participating in the initiative will include Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.

The new partnership will allow black medical and nursing students to learn directly from organ procurement organizations and transplant centers. There will also be several outreach components, including health fairs, blood drives and a plan to introduce K-12 students in black communities to healthcare careers.

According to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Healthh, although nearly 29% of candidates waiting for organ transplants in 2020 were black, they made up only 13% of organ donors that year. And as a result, many black people are dying while waiting for the organs they desperately need. “The moment they get on the list, there is great urgency. And because of the long waits, many of them, of course, fail to get a transplant,” said Dr. James EK Hildreth, president and CEO of Meharry Medical College, in an interview with the PA.

But Dr. Clive Callender, a transplant surgeon and professor of medicine at Howard University College of Medicine, hopes this new initiative will have a positive impact on those negative statistics and ultimately save more black lives. “This collaboration will allow us to save thousands of lives across the country by strengthening relationships between healthcare workers, black and minority patients, and organ and transplant professionals,” he said.

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