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January 9, 1991

Key to Organ Donation May Be Cultural Awareness

JAMA. 1991;265(2):176-177. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460020020005

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PROCURING ORGANS for transplantation in a quantity that is sufficient to meet the demand is a challenge made even greater by the variety of cultural norms that coexist in the United States. Whether family members give permission for the removal of organs from potential donors depends largely on their religious and cultural beliefs. In the Hispanic-American community where the need for organs is great, so is the need to find persuasive arguments for donation.

The tools to meet this challenge have very little to do with medicine. Rather, they involve the ability to view organ donation through a cultural lens, using understanding and sensitivity to each ethnic group's cultural framework and the ways in which it may influence their decision about whether to donate.

Hispanic Americans place close to blacks in the need for organ transplantation. The incidence of non—insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus is three times higher in Hispanic Americans than