Racial disparities in organ donation and why

Curr Opin Organ Transplant. 2011 Apr;16(2):243-9. doi: 10.1097/MOT.0b013e3283447b1c.


Purpose of review: High prevalence of comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, hepatitis B and C, in minority groups, results in racial minorities being disproportionally represented on transplant waiting lists. Organ transplantation positively impacts patient survival but greater access is limited by a severe donor shortage.

Recent findings: Unfortunately, minority groups also suffer from disparities in deceased and living donation. African-Americans comprise 12.9% of the population and 34% of the kidney transplant waiting list but only 13.8% of deceased donors. Barriers to minority deceased donation include: decreased awareness of transplantation, religious or cultural distrust of the medical community, fear of medical abandonment and fear of racism. Furthermore, African-Americans comprise only 11.8% of living donors. Barriers to minority living donation include: unwillingness to donate, medical comorbid conditions, trust or fear of medical community, loss to follow-up, poor coping mechanisms, financial concerns, reluctance to ask family members and friends, fear of surgery, and lack of awareness about living donor kidney transplantation.

Summary: Transplant center-based education classes significantly and positively impact African-American concerns and beliefs surrounding living donation. Community and national strategies utilizing culturally sensitive communication and interventions can ameliorate disparities and improve access to transplantation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / psychology
  • Awareness
  • Comorbidity
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Fear
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Racial Groups / psychology*
  • Religion and Medicine
  • Tissue Donors / psychology*
  • Tissue Donors / supply & distribution
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*
  • Trust