Claremont Researchers Receive Two Federal Grants to Study Organ Donation

Eusabio Alvaro and Jason Siegel's nearly $1.9 million from US Department of Health and Human Services will fund potentially life-saving research

Claremont, CA, August 26, 2007 --( Claremont Graduate University faculty researchers Eusebio Alvaro and Jason Siegel and have received two federal grants for identifying methods for and increasing awareness of organ donation among the Hispanic population.

Collaborating with St. Vincent Medical Center and the Donor Network of Arizona, the work should provide valuable information on barriers to Hispanic organ donation while supporting new interventions designed to increase the actual number of organ donors in the Hispanic community.

Alvaro and Siegel received $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration to implement a program at Los Angeles-based St. Vincent Medical Center. Additionally—and on the same day—Alvaro and Siegel also received word that a separate grant proposal from the United States HHS was accepted. A consortium composed of the Donor Network of Arizona and CGU/School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences will get $963,157 over three years. Of the award, $378,247 will come to CGU.
The total grants awarded are nearly $1.9 million.

The Arizona grant will implement a donor-awareness campaign at four large swap meets throughout the state of Arizona. The goal is twofold: Encourage Hispanics to sign up as organ donors with the Arizona State Registry, while measuring which of several donor campaign messages are the most effective.

Alvaro said he hopes the community-based outreach program in Arizona will significantly increase organ donor registrations and potentially save many lives.

“Hispanics are disproportionately impacted by diseases of the kidney—placing them at great need for kidney transplantation. Unfortunately, there are insufficient kidney donors—especially Hispanic donors—to meet this need,” Alvaro said.

At St. Vincent, Alvaro and Siegel will identify methods for increasing awareness and understanding of living organ donation among Hispanics. The study will focus on two main aspects of kidney donation and transplantation: How much Hispanics in need of a kidney understand about how the organ works (and its effect on their health), and how Hispanics can initiate a discussion about living donation with potential living donors.

Hispanics are disproportionately impacted by diseases of the kidney—placing them at great need for kidney transplantation. Unfortunately, there are insufficient kidney donors—especially Hispanic donors—to meet this need.

“These family members want to help their immediate family members, but there’s a communication gap,” Siegel said. “They want help, but they don’t want to become a burden in their family’s eyes. Just getting them to talk and make them aware that heir family is willing would help the cause.”

“This grant will be instrumental in helping us effectively deliver the life-saving message of living donation,” said Cathy Fickes, President and CEO of St. Vincent. “Our patient base will provide the researchers from Claremont with a perfect population for understanding how we can increase living donation in the Hispanic community.”

The successful grant application process was a joint effort between Claremont University, St. Vincent’s Multi-Organ Transplant Center, and the St. Vincent Foundation.

“The most satisfying part of this grant is that it will eventually save and improve hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives,” said Jan Stein, the foundation’s Vice President and Executive Director. “We know that the more people understand about living donation, the more they are willing to donate, or accept an organ from a living donor. It’s a matter of education truly saving lives.”

Alvaro and Siegel have shown a tremendous success in developing successes with donors before. For example, a previous project of theirs used outdoor advertising as a testing vehicle to encourage organ donation. Their findings led to insight into the psychology behind why individuals agree to join organ donor registries.

About Claremont Graduate University
Founded in 1925, Claremont Graduate University is an independent institution devoted entirely to graduate research and study. On our 19-acre campus in Claremont, California, our eight academic schools conduct leading-edge research and award masters and doctoral degrees in 22 disciplines. Because the world’s problems are not simple nor easily defined, diverse faculty and students research and study across the traditional discipline boundaries to create new and practical solutions for the major problems plaguing our world.

About Donor Network of Arizona
Donor Network of Arizona saves and enhances the lives of Arizonans through its dedicated and passionate work as the state’s only federally-designated non-profit organ procurement organization. Its job is to provide organs to save lives, tissues to enhance lives and corneas to restore sight. It also provides public and professional education throughout Arizona to teach the community and healthcare professionals the importance of and need for organ, tissue and cornea donation.

About St. Vincent Medical Center
Established in 1865, St. Vincent Medical Center is Los Angeles’ first and oldest continually operating hospital. Located just west of downtown, St. Vincent is a world-renowned, 347-bed state-of-the-art facility offering comprehensive medical services, including acute, tertiary and primary care.

Claremont Graduate University
Nikolaos Johnson