Organ Crisis as Hispanics Refuse to Donate–Even Though They Make Up 45% of Recipients

Daily Mail (London), March 28, 2011

Hispanics are less likely to donate organs than the rest of America despite the fact they make up 45 per cent of patients on the waiting list.

The Hispanic community’s reticence about donating organs could lead to a crisis within the field of donation, particularly as the Hispanic population is soaring.

Their lack of willingness to donate centres on religion as many believe that without a whole body, they will not be able to get into heaven.

When Norma Garcia’s 13-year-old daughter was killed in a car wreck, she had no idea that in the midst of her grief she was about to plunge into a controversy that would test her cultural identity, Christian faith and cause a rift in the family.

After Jasmine Garcia was declared brain dead following the 2001 accident, doctors at San Antonio’s University Hospital asked her mother if she would be willing to donate her daughter’s organs.

She said: ‘The majority of my family had a belief that, “How could you do that? How could you allow her to be mutilated? How could you let them take her heart out?”

‘My parents are from Mexico, and they had the feeling that, “She is your daughter. Why would you allow them to do this to her?”‘

Garcia ultimately made an organ donation of Jasmine’s heart and liver, a decision that left her estranged from several relatives for some time, she recalled.

Her experience highlights the cultural divide that organ donation advocates say is threatening the ability of surgeons to save lives through organ transplants, especially as new census figures show the nation’s Hispanic population surging.

First- and second-generation Mexican-Americans are the least likely to donate organs, according to organ donation experts.

Esmeralda Perez of the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance said: ‘We find that the Hispanic community tells us, “My religion says not to donate”, and “I can’t have an open casket because the body will be damaged”.

‘They feel that their loved one will be disfigured, or the person will not be able to get into heaven because their body will not be whole.’

In South Texas along the Rio Grande from Brownsville to Laredo, where Latinos make up the vast majority of 1.4 million residents–many of them first-generation Mexican-Americans–organs from just 19 individuals were donated in 2010, according to the alliance.

She said that 45 per cent of patients on the national waiting list to receive organs are Hispanic.

Nuvia Enriquez, Hispanic outreach coordinator for the Donor Network of Arizona, said they are trying to dissolve some of the myths that Latinos hold on organ donation and religion.

She said: ‘We talk to them about the Catholic Church’s position on donation, which is very positive. Pope John Paul II was actually the first pope to declare donation to be an act of love, and Pope Benedict, when he was Cardinal, was a card-carrying organ donor.’

Ms Garcia said her relatives, who once so strongly criticized her decision to donate Jasmine’s organs, have since become big supporters of organ donation.

‘After we all got more educated, and the family started attending these events where donors’ families meet organ recipients, and seeing how much of a difference this has made in the lives of others and the good they could do for all these people, and how this was keeping Jasmine’s memory alive, I think they realized it was the right decision,’ she said.

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  • Cousin Charlie from TN

    What about death via fire, car wreck, etc.?

    Nonsensical. Read the bible please. All this stuff is covered.

  • sbuffalonative

    There are an increasing number of articles about Americas problems being reported on by British newspapers.

    It seems the American press doesn’t want to touch these issues.

  • Anonymous

    Always some kind of excuse made up for these leeches who hate us, yet will take everything we give, right?

  • Anonymous

    She said: ‘The majority of my family had a belief that, “How could you do that? How could you allow her to be mutilated? How could you let them take her heart out?”

    According to Mexicans, a human heart should only be removed if you’re planning to EAT the heart, so as to absorb the strength and wisdom of your dead enemy for yourself. You know, like Quetzalcoatl.

    But taking out a heart and NOT eating it? Surgically transplanting that heart so that someone else might live? Now that’s just crazy talk!

  • Jeremy

    One idea that might help is EVERYONE recieving any type of transplant MUST sign (irrevocable) documents that his or her organs may be taken at their time of death.

    They don’t want to give up their ticket to heaven BUT they have no problem taking away someone elses?

    blacks are also notorious for DEMANDING organs when they as a group donate at almost the zero level.

    Then again maybe this is just their culture and I am a racist for saying this? But to me it seems like they love to take (Hep) anytime they can get it but seldom offer it to anyone else?

  • nokangaroos

    #8 Cousin Charlie from TN …

    I may note that Orthodox Jews hold similar views – in Israel they even have a voluntary police unit to collect the parts after bombings. At least in early Christian understanding the resurrection was meant to be “in the flesh”. Same with Muslims – all the parts have to be interred together so the archangels can find them. And there are enough “Christian” denominations who refuse even blood transfusions.

    – As for me, I do not believe there is such a thing as a “right to rot”, and the law should reflect that.

    Heresaround, emergency physicians (a particularly cynical bunch, only the pathologists are worse) refer to motorcycle accidents as “organ donors”, as their organs are in better shape than those with half a year of intensive care. So what? Salvage everything that´s still usable.(though I somewhat share Seneca the Younger´s reservations 🙂

    – The reason Hispanics are so overrepresented on the waiting list is not that they have no friends or family (g) but, I would say, that as mongrels they have more genetic incompatibilities. The problem has long been known in mulattoes (as is the lack of enthusiasm for donating).

  • convairXF92

    I grew up in a rock-solid Catholic area, largely Slav (Pennsylvania coal region) and find these attitudes familiar. We were suspicious of organ donation–found it a bit shocking–as yes, all parts of the body were supposed to be in the grave together, so the body could be reconstructed intact at the Second Coming of Christ.

    Amputations were not an issue; in fact we had a lot of respect for knife-happy “tough” surgeons who would choose amputation over “softer” solutions. The amputated limb would be buried at what would become the burial site for the rest of the person.

    I have no idea what they did with removed kidneys etc. I assume appendices and tonsils were considered useless and so were OK to become biological waste.

  • Anonymous

    I think the low hispanic and black organ donation rates are because they are more selfish and less altruistic than whites. Because of this, I won’t donate to anyone but family and friends. And no charity devoted to the third world or our own “disadvantaged” will ever get a penny from me. To 6-Flamethrower…so funny!!!

  • Anonymous

    I used to have it on my license that I was an organ donor . But then I came to the conclusion that it was big business . Your organs may be worth more than you are .

    So you’re very incapacitated after an accident , you can’t respond . The person who decides to harvest your organs just may be motivated by something other than compassion , like money . Selfish ? Perhaps , but better safe than sorry .

    Over thirty years ago they grew a human ear on the back of a mouse . They keep promising , ” lab grown organs,” let’s get the show on the road . Instead of spending taxpayers money on endless foreign wars and foreign aid to bolster those who hate us anyway , spend it on research and development for America .

  • E

    If organ donation is mutilation, then they should not recieve organ transplants either!

  • Schoolteacher

    White organs in Hispanic bodies: The ultimate in wealth transfers.

  • Catholic Hindu

    In pre-Vatican II days, it was taught that the whole body had to be buried (minus unimportant items such as tonsils or appendix, if need be) so that when the dead arise, they’d have the complete corpus. AFTER Vatican II, that teaching was changed; note it was NOT dogma (which cannot be changed) – it was PRACTICE, which can be changed as needed. Now the Church is very supportive of organ donation “What greater love is there, than the one who lays down his life (or organs!) for his friend?” It is regarded as loving sacrifice today. Very often Mexicans haven’t made the changeover to post-Vatican II, and so the old ways predominate with them. Theirs is an old-fashioned and very superstitious culture, so this is not surprising. If the Hispanic and other Spanish-speaking priests would now emphasize current practice with regard to this issue, the number of Hispanic organ donors probably would multiply.

  • Boogie Boogie

    This is what I say about giving blood also.Whites give most of the blood and all other races get the highest % of it.Most Blacks are scared of giving and I have never seen a Mexican giving.I would say that only 5% of the white race gives,but 80% of it goes to other races.Why not go back to giving for a family or friends.Just something I haven’t understood and the American Red Cross would not give out numbers on this…

  • Michael C. Scott

    When some neighbors and I went to donate blood two years ago, the crowd of donors was 100% white (why would organ donation be any different.) I ended up not giving blood after they told me my blood pressure was too low.