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Survey Finds Americans Strongly Support Organ And Tissue Donation For Research

PHILADELPHIA, Pa.–February 18, 2020 –A strong majority of Americans agree that organ and tissue donation for research contributes to health and medical breakthroughs and acknowledge significant shortfalls for donation. This is according to a new survey released today commissioned by Research!America in partnership with The National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI).

The survey finds that most Americans (93%) agree that donated organs and tissues help researchers make scientific breakthroughs. Similarly, respondents have tremendous support for organ and tissue donation for transplant at death (85%) as well as donation for research at death (84%). More than four out of five respondents (81%) acknowledge significant shortages of both organs and tissues available for transplant and research. Continued public outreach to encourage individuals to become donors was identified by respondents as important. Despite the widespread support for organ and tissue donation for research and transplant, and recognition of shortages, slightly more than half of respondents (55%) say they are registered organ or tissue donors.

The survey finds that for those who are not registered donors, nearly half are undecided (22%) or do not have a reason (29%) for not wanting their organs to be donated for research upon death.

“The gifts of organ and tissue donations are selfless acts of generosity that provide opportunities to advance discovery, improve health, and save lives,” said Bill Leinweber, President and CEO of NDRI. “For forty years, NDRI has been a world leader in the procurement and distribution of organs and tissues for research across the full spectrum of disease and disorders. Knowing that the public values this research and wants us to continue to do more of it means that we have to tell more of our story.”

Some 500 scientists from across the globe are served with human biospecimens each year by NDRI. Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, Chair of the NDRI Board of Directors and President of Shepherd University noted, “Millions of patients with diseases such as diabetes, HIV, and cystic fibrosis are alive today as a result of therapies derived from research utilizing human organs and tissue. NDRI is committed to meeting emerging needs of the scientific community and has demonstrated tremendous value in providing organ and tissue samples to support research on a variety of initiatives, including autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury, opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis.”

Additional highlights from the Research!America/NDRI survey include:

  • A total of 91% of those surveyed had heard of organ and tissue donation, and 88% of respondents had heard of donating organs and tissues for research. However, only 63% of respondents have sought information about organ and tissue donation from any source.
  • African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic-American respondents were somewhat less likely than Caucasian respondents to support organ and tissue donation for transplant and research at death and are less likely to report being registered as organ or tissue donors.
  • Respondents admire those who donate organ and tissue for transplant (77% saying ‘a great deal’) as well as those who donate organ and tissue for research (71% saying ‘a great deal’).
  • Most respondents (79%) are comfortable with their donated organs and tissue being used in research by a nonprofit, but fewer (57%) are comfortable with their donated organ and tissue being used in research by a for-profit organization.

“Consistent with other surveys we’ve commissioned on other topics, the public tells us they place a high value on medical research,” said Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley. “Americans believe in the hope research presents to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Organ and tissue research offer a unique opportunity to drive innovative discoveries and find solutions to what ails us.”

NDRI is a 24/7 operation that partners with a nationwide network of over 130 tissue source sites (TSS), including organ procurement organizations (OPOs), tissue banks, eye banks, and hospitals. Throughout NDRI’s 40-year history, the organization has worked tirelessly to provide researchers with organs, cells, and tissues to advance research toward treatments and cures to improve the lives of patients and their families.

Howard Nathan, NDRI Board Member and President and CEO of Gift of Life of Philadelphia, a leading OPO that has worked with NDRI since its founding, shared, “Thanks to the selflessness and generosity of donors and their families, groundbreaking science and community support, our nation leads the world in donation, transplantation and research. Yet this poll shows that with education and outreach we can do even more to ensure that no one dies waiting for a transplant and to enable researchers to find cures for so many disabling and deadly diseases. We are proud of our partnership with NDRI and to be able to offer families the legacy of advancing science and medical care through donation.”