Recipient of Heart Transplant Promotes Organ Donation

Harrt Jackson Jr., St. Louis Post –Dispatch, August 27, 2009

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LaKeisha Coleman, education coordinator with Mid-America Transplant Services, works with Bonds and others to tell black people about organ donation.

Blacks need more donors for certain organs such as kidneys and lungs because they’re harder to match outside of ethnic groups, she said.

Statistics from Mid-America Transplant Services, based in St. Louis, say that this year in the St. Louis region, 61 percent of black people eligible to sign donor permissions, have done so, compared to 93 percent of white people.

The challenge, they say, is that too many blacks don’t trust the transplant system. They fear their organs would be taken from blacks prematurely to save white patients. And they point to medical atrocities committed in the United States against black people, as well as continuing disparities in medical care for black people.

Coleman said transplants are anonymous and handled by different agencies. “The doctor who (harvests) the organs won’t be the same who does the transplant surgery,” she said.

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