Research Activities, September 2013
Lower consent rates for organ donation found among racial and ethnic minorities and older donors
Lower consent rates for organ donation found among racial and ethnic minorities and older donors The current number of donated organs is insufficient to meet the demand for organ transplants. A new study suggests that organ donation varies by age and race/ethnicity, with lower consent rates among racial and ethnic minorities and among older people.
Consent was significantly more likely to be obtained from white patients (77.0 percent), compared to Hispanics (67.5 percent), "other races" (59.0 percent), blacks (54.9 percent), and Asians (48.1 percent). In addition, there was substantial variability in consent rates by race/ethnicity across the 11 geographic regions defined by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS is the organization that maintains the Nation's organ transplant database. Appropriate and effective contact with next-of-kin is critical in the chain of the organ consent process. However, analysis of data on the lower consent rates among families of older potential donors suggests that this is related to provider/organ procurement organization practices.
Among racial and ethnic minorities, lower consent rates may be due, in part, to personal, cultural, or religious beliefs. When this is so, lower rates do not represent problems to be fixed; however, some of these differences are due to miscommunication, misinformation, or trust among racial and ethnic minorities.
The study analyzed 35,283 deaths of potential organ donors reported to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network during the 2008–2011 study period. Some form of consent was obtained from family members or other decisionmakers in 26,016 (72.6 percent) eligible deaths. In the 4,415 (17.0 percent) other eligible deaths, authorization came from a donor registry and/or prior documentation.
The researchers suggest some ways of increasing consent rates, such as offering an ethnicity-matched requestor for racial and ethnic minorities. They also note that providing accurate and sufficient information about the organ donation process, the definition of brain death, the potential for donation to help others, and the impact of donation on funeral arrangements can help to raise consent rates among minorities. This study was funded by AHRQ (HS18406).
See "Deceased organ donation consent rates among racial and ethnic minorities and older potential donors," by David S. Goldberg, M.D., Scott D. Halpern, M.D., Ph.D., and Peter P. Reese, M.D. in the February 2013 in Critical Care Medicine 41(3), pp. 496-505.