Black Lives Matter Statement of Support from Donor Network West
Indeed, as stewards of the most precious gift of all—the gift of life—we rely upon the goodwill of the communities we serve to say “yes” to our mission of saving and healing lives through organ and tissue donation. We understand that for many African Americans, our plea for altruism often requires a suspension of disbelief. When we consider the centuries-long burden that African Americans have shouldered to advocate for their dignity, citizenship, humanity, and their very survival, we understand that our mission can present a moral reckoning:
– How can you ask us to save and heal lives in death, when our lives don’t matter?
– How can we trust that our bodies will be treated with dignity in death, when they have been brutalized in life?
– How can we begin to ponder this act of altruism, when we can’t breathe?
Two years ago, Donor Network West launched a groundbreaking multimedia campaign, Giving Me Life, with the sole purpose of taking the unprecedented stance of affirming that Black Lives Matter, in the context of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Through the medium of social documentary photography, we shared the visual testimonials of nine Bay Area African American organ and tissue transplant recipients, whose lives were saved and healed thanks to incredibly generous donors. Our campaign interrogated how health disparities facing African Americans—high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes, obesity, and, yes … systemic racism—are root causes for the overrepresentation of African American patients on transplant waiting lists across the U.S.
All people of goodwill demand change.
Donor Network West stands in solidarity with everyone who is in anguish as we grieve and struggle to wrest a higher meaning from the violent deaths of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery—along with the countless named and unnamed African Americans whose lives have been taken too soon. Our hearts are heavy over these disturbing and reprehensible events, but our resolve is strong.
At this critical juncture, it is vitally important that members of our Donate Life industry unite to demand anti-racist accountability—not just in the communities that we serve, but also in the workplace. Do our workplaces reflect the community we serve and if not, how quickly can we change that? As importantly, does the national organ donation and transplantation system serve all socioeconomic levels and minority citizens equally alongside their co-waiting community members?
Views of race and ethnicity must evolve in the donation and transplantation community as well as for our nation across various assets and services. African Americans donate – they have always understood helping their fellow citizens as their heritage has so convincingly demonstrated.
Against all odds, African Americans have reached for a greater good and often for those so believing, a spiritual good. When organizations such as ours function as and with a true community, African Americans are all-in, even though they may not be on the receiving end. They should also expect __________.
Donor Network West will continue to evolve into an organization that reflects how we should live and work within our community. Now, with intent and for the generations to come, we must change our organizations to reflect our communities and ensure that organ donation and transplantation policies and practices treat everyone equally and without preconceived expectations.
Our work to keep this evolution top-of-agenda as we build the types of organizations that can and must obtain more life-saving donated organs will be watched. Communities are… now, what will they become? Organizations are… now, what will they become? Donor Network West believes the same rich tapestry that is the community must also be the organization. We are committed to and assert that this must be an eventual reality for every transplant-related organization in the nation. We owe this envisioned reality to George Floyd and the countless others who have sacrificed. Lives depend on it.
With humility, with passion, and with resolve,
Janice F. Whaley, MPH, CPTC, CTBS
Chief Executive Officer
Donor Network West