Women may be more willing than men to donate organs |
Men and women have similar reasons for becoming – or not becoming – an organ donor, according to a new study. Yet women seem more willing to donate their organs to family members or strangers.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on Friday, suggest that improving communication among family members about organ donation wishes could help increase and diversify the pool of organs available for donation. transplantation.
“It’s important that we start having these difficult conversations a little earlier,” said Dr. Khadijah Breathett, lead author of the study, cardiologist specializing in heart failure and transplants and assistant professor of medicine in the Division. of Cardiology at the University of Arizona at Tucson. “With COVID, maybe it is a little easier because people recognize the fragility of life, and don’t know what is promised for tomorrow, so these discussions are becoming more and more common.”
In some states, listing the “organ donor” on a driver’s license may not be enough, especially if your family doesn’t know your wishes, Breathett said. To reduce confusion at the time of death, she encourages those who wish to donate to register with their state’s organ donor registry, notify their families, and document their wishes on a medical power of attorney.
The lack of organ donation remains a major problem: more than 106,000 men, women and children were on the transplant waiting list in the United States as of September 24, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Every day, 17 people die while waiting for an organ, according to statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services. One person is added to the list every nine minutes. According to a 2019 government survey, 90% of adults in the United States support organ donation, but only half are actually registered as donors.
The new study was designed to explore gender disparities in organ donation, which had not been studied extensively before, even though receiving an organ of the opposite sex may result in lower survival rates, especially with heart transplants. In the United States, 60% of living donors – for example, of a kidney or part of the liver – are women. But only 40% of deceased donors are women.
In the study, “both sexes had similar reasons for wanting to donate their organs,” said lead author Erika Yee, a medical student at the University of Arizona. “They had a desire to help others. They had personal experiences with organ donors or recipients, or they said they had no use for their organs after they died. So why not? make a donation ?”
When asked why people who were not registered donors, half cited personal fears and more than a third reported medical distrust, with no gender difference. Other reasons included basic knowledge of the transplant process (33%), religious reasons (20%), and wanting their bodies to be intact for burial (19%). About 40% of both men and women said more information could change their willingness to donate.
Researchers used a global crowdsourcing marketplace to recruit 667 participants for a 2019 survey. Researchers can select inclusion and exclusion criteria. Eligible participants can choose to participate based on their interest and the compensation offered, which in this case was $ 1.
This method provided a “convenience sample,” which inherently lacks randomization, and the researchers recognized important differences between those who chose to participate and the general population of the United States. For example, 69% of the participants were white, 55% were female, 80% were 50 or younger, and 68% had an associate’s degree or above.
The authors noted this as a limitation, as a larger proportion of the excluded participants were married and of Hispanic descent.
“Systemic racism and prejudice are known issues affecting patients of color,” they wrote, “and socioeconomic status also has an impact on the likelihood of donation. This study lacks the perspective of these groups important intersectionals. ” However, they said, as fewer women become deceased organ donors, oversampling of women is a strength.
While the study is not generalizable to the entire U.S. population, it’s important to know the reasons people don’t donate, said Dr. Michael Givertz, medical director of Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory. Support at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Givertz, who was not in the study, was surprised that 36% of non-donors cited medical mistrust as a reason.
“I think what we do as transplant providers is extremely ethical and trustworthy,” said Givertz, who is also a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, “but based on this investigation, it doesn’t is not always the case, or at least not widely recognized. “
The overall good news, he said, is that transplants in the United States have increased: in 2019, there were 39,719 compared to 30,974 in 2015 and 28,668 in 2010. But demand is exceeding. still widely supply. One person’s organs can save eight lives and improve another 75 lives, according to federal data.
“A single organ donor can give life to a heart patient, lung patients, kidney patients and liver patients,” Givertz said. “I don’t think people realize it.”
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