From its inception in 1991, AMAT (formerly ASHMTP) was created with the hope of saving more lives by increasing organ and tissue donation among multicultural communities. Over the past 20 years, the significant gap in the percentage of diverse populations who register to become organ and tissue donors and those in need of life-saving transplants who are registered on the national United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list has only widened. For instance, according to the NIH, African Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to require a kidney transplant compared with their White counterparts. This is due in large part to higher incidences of diabetes and hypertension, both of which are linked to end-stage renal failure. Yet, the donation consent rate among minorities continues to be lower than Whites, accounting for only 34% of donors in 2011. It has been clinically proven that organs matched by blood group and tissue type increase the chance of a successful outcome, with most suitable matches often being from the same ethnic group. As such, the need for more multicultural donors is great.
Research studies further confirm that there is a critical link between cultural attitudes, traditions, and mores in relationship to the decision-making process concerning organ and tissue donation. In support of this, AMAT has been at the forefront of advocating for and sharing best practices in the donation and transplantation community aimed at closing the donation gap among African American, Asian and Pacific Islander and Latino communities. Through research initiatives, shared best practices, and professional development opportunities, AMAT offers invaluable support to hundreds of transplant and donation professionals. Further, AMAT has worked tirelessly to explore and implement new approaches and strategies for addressing two of the biggest barriers to donation: myths and misconceptions.
“When educating the public about organ donation and transplantation, there can be confusion about who can donate and receive organs, as well as the complexities of the organ donation and transplantation process.”
When educating the public about organ donation and transplantation, there can be confusion about who can donate and receive organs, as well as the complexities of the organ donation and transplantation process. Thus, it is not uncommon to encounter individuals who are unwilling to register as organ and tissue donors because of variables such as mistrust/lack of confidence in the medical industry/profession; reluctance to discuss death and end of life issues; superstitions/fatalistic views that to discuss donation is to will a tragedy to occur; assumed cultural and religious objections to donation; misconceptions about bodily integrity and disfigurement, and concerns about the perceived lack of “currency” or value concerning saving the lives of diverse individuals.
AMAT works hard to support healthcare professionals as they reframe the dialogue about these myths and misconceptions in hopes of encouraging multicultural communities to designate themselves as organ and tissue donors on state registries, invigorate dialogue about the truths of donation, and create a culture of donation that transcends all boundaries.