By AFRO Staff
A group of HBCU medical schools have teamed up in an initiative meant to increase Black organ donors, according to a recent announcement. The program also aims to combat disparities among transplant recipients.
The initiative, driven by the Consortium of HBCU Medical Schools, the Organ Donation Advocacy Group and Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, will seek to educate Black medical and nursing students about organ donation and transplanting. It will also enlist Black health professionals to educate both K-12 students and members of the community about organ donorship—possible career pathways in the field, why it is important and how to access transplant services.
“At the heart of all this is the profound disparity in transplants that are given and performed on African Americans versus Whites in our country, and it’s a long-standing problem and issue,” said Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, president and CEO of Meharry Medical College, in an interview with The Associated Press.
That disparity was made more evident during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which exacted a disproportionate toll on communities of color, pointing to the structural racism and bias woven into the nation’s health care system. And, the inequity was highlighted earlier this year in a report, “Realizing the Promise of Equity in the Organ Transplantation System,” which was authored by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and commissioned by Congress.
But encouraging African Americans to buy-in to—and trust in—organ donorship is something best done by people from their community, Hildreth said.
“Some of this messaging has to come from trusted organizations,” he told The AP, “which is another one of the reasons that we believe that the four Black medical schools have a very important role to play that quite honestly could not be filled by any other organizations in the country.”
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