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USA Health System
News Release
Mobile, Ala. (November 12, 2004)
Contact: Barbara Shaw
USA Hospitals Public Relations, (251) 471-7262

USA Transplant Surgeon Leads National Effort to Increase African American Organ Donations

Dr. Velma Scantlebury
Dr. Velma Scantlebury, transplant surgeon and director of the University of South Alabama Regional Transplant Center, will serve as national spokesperson for Linkages to Life, an initiative to encourage African Americans to donate organs, tissue and bone marrow. Scantlebury and black transplant surgeons nationwide, will partner with African American churches in cities across the nation, including Mobile, on Sunday, November 14, also known as Donor Sabbath, to encourage congregations to discuss organ donation with their
families. This is the first time the nation’s black transplant surgeons have united in a national effort to end organ shortages. The initiative, sponsored by The Links, Incorporated and Roche,
Dr. Velma Scantlebury, transplant surgeon and director of the USA Regional Transplant Center will discuss the critical and growing need for organ donations during church services.

hopes to create awareness among the African American community about the numberof African Americans on the transplant waiting list and the need for more donors.

More than 87,000 Americans are currently waiting for life-saving organ transplants and the list of candidates continues to grow. More than 25 percent of people waiting are African American. As a group, African Americans have a greater-than-average need for organ and tissue transplantation because of the relatively high incidence in this population of certain medical conditions that can cause permanent organ damage, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disorders. Some experts believe patients fare better when both donor and recipient are from the same racial or ethnic group.

“The organ shortage in this country is a medical crisis, especially in the black community, where the need is greatest. Certainly, increased rates of African American organ donation can help ease the crisis by creating the opportunity for more transplants,” said Scantlebury, who is a member of The Links, Incorporated. “ I am proud to join my Link sisters and fellow surgeons in this initiative to let people know what is happening in our community.”

Linkages to Life is an ongoing, church-based program designed to demystify organ, tissue and bone marrow donation, emphasizing the critical need in the African American community. This year’s initiative was the largest ever, with participating churches urging congregations to strongly consider organ donation.

“Seven years on dialysis took a serious toll on my life. I waited so long, I quit waiting,” said local kidney transplant recipient Joann C. DuBose. “Today, I am alive and healthy with a new kidney, thanks to someone else’s generosity. If more people would consider donation, everyone in need could have this wonderful gift of life.”

DuBose and Scantlebury will speak during services this Sunday morning at the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 2756 Old Shell Road in Mobile. The services are from 10:30 a.m. until 12 p.m. The program is part of the Linkages to Life initiative to encourage African Americans to donate organs, tissue and bone marrow. Similar programs are being held at churches across the nation. The program is sponsored by The Links, Incorporated and Roche.

“We’re working hard to dispel myths about donation. People fear that donors don’t receive proper treatment if they’re sick, or that organs are distributed first to the rich or famous. It’s not true,” said Scantlebury. “ We need to educate ourselves and our community about these issues. Because of advances in surgery and medical care after a transplant, more recipients than ever are living longer and healthier lives.”

The Links, Incorporated is a not-for-profit organization founded in Philadelphia, Penn. In 1946 and is comprised of 10,000 members of African Ancestry, who are committed to enhancing the quality of life in their communities, not just for today, but also for tomorrow and the future. Visit to learn more about The Links, Incorporated and Linkages to Life.

For more information on organ donation or kidney transplants, call the USA Regional Transplant Center at (251) 471-7391 or (877) 421-5704.

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Last date changed: November 12, 2004 12:54 PM