In 1978, members of the Southeastern Organ Procurement Foundation approached us concerning the disparity between the large number of African American patients, 50% to 70% of all patients on dialysis (artificial kidney machines), and the small number of African American donors (3%), and asked us why and what could be done about it? From my perspective as an African American transplant surgeon at Howard University, these observations piqued my curiosity and I agreed to investigate them. Our investigation took us into three areas: 1. An evaluation of the data regarding transplantation in patients at the Howard University Hospital Transplant Center (HUTC). 2. A search to find the actual incidence and cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in the District of Columbia (DC) and throughout the nation. 3. Finding an answer to the question "Why are African Americans reluctant to leave organs and tissues behind, after the death of their loved ones?"


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