Survey finds family conversation key to organ donation

11/02/05

Linkages to Life™ Program aims to increase organ donation among African Americans

WASHINGTON, November 3, 2005 – With the black community facing an ever-growing need for organ donation, the findings of a national survey released today show that a family discussion about organ donation – one of the most important steps in the process of becoming an organ donor – is often overlooked, with more than 8 out of 10 African Americans unaware of the importance of speaking to their loved ones about their wish to become a donor.

The significance of this is clear – 92 percent of those surveyed said they would be likely to donate a family member's organs if that person had expressed the desire to be a donor, while only 43 percent said they would be likely to donate a relative's organs if the person hadn't mentioned it. That's why The Links, Incorporated and Roche will distribute thousands of conversation starter guides at organ donor awareness church events nationwide on National Donor Sabbath, November 13. The group also will launch a nationwide public service announcement campaign highlighting this crucial step to becoming a donor.

"The need in the African American community is especially great since 27 percent of the people on the organ transplant waiting list are black – more than double their representation in the general population," said Dr. Devon John, assistant professor in transplant surgery, New York University Medical Center. "Marking your driver's license is not enough in most states – family members are routinely consulted about donating a loved one's organs after that person dies."

Linkages to Life in Fourth Year

The Linkages to LifeTM Organ, Tissue and Bone Marrow Donation Awareness Program, now in its fourth year, is conducted by The Links, Inc., the largest African American women's service organization, and Roche, a pharmaceutical company.

The Linkages to Life program, in churches nationwide this year on Sunday, Nov. 13 – the National Donor Sabbath declared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – will urge families to talk about organ donation with a free Can We Talk? conversation starter guide that offers simple tips to help would-be donors initiate the critical organ donation conversation. Linkages to Life events feature local organ donors, recipients and transplant medical professionals at church services sharing their stories and discussing the dire need for organ donation and transplantation in the black community. Speakers will encourage attendees to become organ donors, and will stress the importance of having the organ donation discussion with their families.

"If everyone who wanted to be a donor shared that wish with his or her family, we could save thousands more people every year through organ donation," said Victoria Dent, Linkages to Life program chair for The Links, Inc. and director of community relations, Upstate New York Transplant Services. "Misconceptions about organ donation still prevail, so we are working with Roche to empower our community with facts and tools to make a difference."

For resources on organ donation and transplantation, and information on the Linkages to Life program, survey, or for a free copy of the Can We Talk? guide, please visit www.linksinc.org.

The telephone survey was conducted by Braun Research, Inc. in June 2005 among a national sample of 300 African American adults 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. For a full report of the survey results, visit www.linksinc.org.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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