Disparities in Donation and Transplantation

Donate Life Northwest is committed to providing education that empowers all individuals to make an informed decision about registering to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor. This means that we must address the systemic racism that creates disparities in donation and transplant, and across the American healthcare system.

Our vision: "A world where no one waits for an organ, eye, or tissue transplant."

What is the donation gap?

Patients from communities of color make up 60% of the national transplant waiting list but only about 40% of the population. This means that communities of color, particularly Black people and Latino people are overrepresented on the waiting list. Part of the reason for this is that people of color have much higher rates of hypertension and diabetes, which put patients at higher risk for organ failure.  

Please take a moment to learn more about the inequalities and disparities in the statistics and resources below. 

Statistics

Black Americans

  • Black Americans make up 13.4% of the population
  • Black Americans make up 27.8% of the transplant waiting list
  • Black Americans represented 15% of all deceased donors in 2019
  • Black Americans represented 8.4% of all living donors in 2019

For more info in Black Americans and transplant visit the Office of Minority Health.

Latino Americans

  • Make up 18.5% of the population
  • Make up 20.2% of the transplant waiting list
  • Represented 15% of all deceased donors in 2019
  • Represented 14.2% of all living donors in 2019

For more info on Latino Americans and transplants visit the Office of Minority Health.

Asian Americans

  • Make up 5.9% of the population
  • Make up 8.4% of the waiting list
  • Represented 2.7% of all deceased donors in 2019
  • Represented 4.3% of living donors in 2019

For more info on Asian Americans and transplant visit the Office of Minority Health.

White Americans

  • Make up 76.3% of the population
  • Make up 40.2% of the waiting list
  • Represented 65.6% of deceased donors in 2019
  • Represented 71.4% of living donors in 2019

 

All transplant and waiting list data are from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN).

All population data is from the U.S. Census Bureau.

How do we close the gap?

This is a big question and there isn't any one right answer. There are many complexities to the inequities in donation and transplantation. We can all help by registering to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor. This helps to create a larger and more diverse donor pool. 

One of the most important things that you can do is talk to your family about donation. Start the conversation and have a clear understanding of your decision, as well as your families. 

Donate Life Northwest is working to improve the ways that we empower individuals to reduce and eliminate barriers in donation and transplantation. We are committed as a team to improving the ways in which we engage with and support communities of color. This page is the start of our work to address the inequities that exist within donation and transplantation. This work is ongoing, but we are currently taking the following steps to engage the whole Donate Life Northwest community in understanding inequities and ways our shared work can highlight and help eliminate these barriers.

  • The Board of Directors and staff are discussing the ways that we can address inequalities in transplant and better support communities of color.
  • We have formed a committee for diversity, equity, and inclusion to understand and address concerns from the community.
  • We are working closely with our community partners to determine the roles we can all take to address inequities in transplant and strive towards eliminating them.

 

We are also committed to working with the members of our community. If you have questions, want to get involved in this work, or have resources to share with please email us at info@donatelifenw.org

Resources

National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP)

Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation (AMAT)

Racial Disparities in Organ Donation and Why

Awareness of Racial Disparities in Kidney Transplantation Among Health Care Providers in Dialysis Facilities

Racial and Regional Disparity in Liver Transplant Allocation

Association of Race and Ethnicity With Live Donor Kidney Transplantation in the United States From 1995 to 2014