Increasing Organ Donations Among NYC Minorities Goal of Study

By Lois Baker

Release Date: November 5, 2007 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A study aimed at increasing the number of African-American, Hispanic and Asian registered organ donors in New York City and focusing on college students is underway and headed by a researcher at the University at Buffalo.

New York City has one of the largest concentrations of racial minorities in the U.S., and consistently lags behind national consent and recovery rates for organ transplantation.

Of the 97,000 people waiting for organ transplants in the U.S., 43 percent are African-American or Hispanic. Increasing kidney donations is particularly important in these populations, as African-Americans and Hispanics are at increased risk of kidney disease.

Thomas H. Feeley, associate professor of communication in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, and research assistant professor of family medicine in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is principal investigator on the $427,000 two-year grant, which is funded by the Human Resources Services Administration, Division of Transplantation.

Julia Rivera, director of communications at the New York Organ Donor Network (NYODN) is co-principal investigator. NYODN is the federally designated organ and tissue procurement organization for the New York City metropolitan area.

The new grant will fund campus and/or community-wide public relations campaigns designed and executed by college students who are enrolled in upper-level communication courses at colleges located in Manhattan. The approach is based on results of Feeley's three years of research to determine which messages and media are most successful in engaging students to pledge their intentions to become organ and tissue donors.

The campaign aims to increase student signing rates and family notification rates by 20 percent, and to increase the state electronic registry enrollment in zip codes surrounding the New York City area by five percent by the end of the second year.

City College of New York (CCNY), Hostos Community College and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) already have agreed to participate in spring 2008.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. The School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is one of five schools that constitute the Academic Health Center. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.