The main limiting factor for organ transplantation is a deficiency of available organs. The shortage of available organs is especially severe for African-Americans, and to a lesser extent Hispanics. Blood donors are an inherently altruistic group, but no studies have addressed whether blood donors would be more willing to sign on as organ donors than non- blood donors. Almost all blood banks now conduct blood drives in high schools, and, in San Diego, 21% of blood donated to the San Diego Blood Bank comes from high school blood drives. These drives are organized and conducted by high school students, with assistance and supervision by blood bank officials. We propose to have high school students ask blood donors and non-blood donors to sign on to the California Department of Motor Vehicles organ donor program, which can be done quickly and easily on-line. We will conduct the study in high schools and communities that have a high percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics. Our primary hypothesis is that blood donors will be more willing to sign on as blood donors than non-blood donors. After being asked to sign on as an organ donor, participating subjects will partake in a short 10 minute educational session about organ donation led by a high school student. The subjects will then again be asked to sign on as an organ donor. Our secondary hypotheses are that the educational session will increase the number of subjects who will sign on as an organ donor, and that the effect will be greater in blood donors than non-blood donors. The educational materials will be culturally sensitive, as they will be developed by a team of three to five students that will include at least one African-American and one Hispanic student. If this program is successful, it could easily be disseminated widely throughout the United States, and we demonstrate that it could increase markedly the number of organs donated by African-Americans and Hispanics.
The number of people who are candidates for organ transplantation far exceeds the number of organ donors;this imbalance is particularly critical for minority groups such as African-Americans. We propose to determine if high school students can increase the interest of blood donors in their communities in becoming organ donors. If successful, this study could point to a method to markedly reduce the disparity between the number of organ donors and organ recipients.