Racial differences in the living kidney donation experience and implications for education

Shayna L Lunsford, Lilless M Shilling, Kenneth D Chavin, Margaret S Martin, Lucia G Miles, Michele L Norman, Prabhakar K Baliga
Progress in Transplantation 2007, 17 (3): 234-40

CONTEXT: Much has been written about the barriers to deceased organ donation in the African American community. However, relatively little research has been conducted on barriers to living donation among African Americans. A shortage of suitable deceased donor kidneys among African Americans has encouraged donation from living donors.

OBJECTIVE: As a follow-up to several focus groups with health professionals about barriers to living donation and suggestions for educational interventions, we sought to determine kidney donors' thoughts and feelings about their donation.

DESIGN: Telephone interviews with past donors.

PARTICIPANTS: Nine African Americans and 9 whites were selected from a database of laparoscopic donor nephrectomies from 1993 to 2003.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Transcribed phone interviews were reviewed by 3 researchers to determine recurring themes and categorize responses.

RESULTS: Responses were categorized into 8 areas of concern: health, financial, life with 1 kidney, procreation, psychosocial matters, surgery related, success of the transplant, and concerns about the future. Whites (n = 9) tended to volunteer more for laparoscopic kidney donation than did African Americans (n = 2). African American concerns focused on future health and living with only 1 kidney, whereas whites had concerns about the surgery and the medical system.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicated that education is the best way to reach living donors and dispell fears. Promoting general health of African Americans may increase their willingness to be a living donor. Altruistic motives are the main motivation for donation, and intervention programs should target groups on a personal level to help individuals see that they can make a difference in improving or saving lives.

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