Document Type


Date of Award



School of Communication (SOC)

Degree Name

MA in Communication

First Advisor

Professor James W. Ward


The importance of organ and tissue donation in the minority community has been very slow in gaining acceptance. The communicative challenge in the minority community has been historically hampered by fear of such drastic medical procedures. Information regarding organ and tissue donation has only recently begun to emerge in minority communities. In these communities, the shortage of organs is incredibly critical. The ineffective communications of the life saving benefits of organ and tissue transplantation in the minority community can be attributed to many factors. This thesis examined three critical factors regarding the reasons why communication has not been successful in this group. First, the socioeconomic status of minorities correlates directly to the degree of healthcare received in their communities. Secondly, organ and tissue donation is critical in the African American community primarily because of economics, lack of knowledge, and historical fears. These factors partially support why the shortage is so disproportionate to that in the White community. Third and fmally, the medical and social ethics of organ and tissue donation will also examine the issue of xenotransplantation (transplantation of an animal organ into a human) which scientists believe may become more of a necessity than an experimental option (DHH, 1997). 2 It is important to consider that the field of transplantation is an extraordinary life saving procedure and the issue of organ and tissue allocation a complex one that requires input from the community - patients, donor families, and transplant professionals (physicians and non-physicians). The challenge in the minority community is twofold: how to minimize the critical need for donors and how to communicate the benefits of organ donation to this community as a life saving necessity. In the last 20 years, important medical breakthroughs, such as tissue typing and immunosuppressant (anti-rejection) drugs have allowed for a larger number of organ transplants and a longer survival rate for transplant recipients (Sells, 1994). -In the minority community, the shortage of organs is incredibly critical and life expectancy exponentially skewed towards certain death without donor organs and tissues.