One LifeGift, One Community: Diverse Populations Growing in Houston

As you drive around Houston, you’re exposed to many cultures – no passport needed. Look around. Open your senses to new cultures. See the beauty of colors. Listen to meaningful melodies. Taste exotic flavors. Smell healing aromas and touch silky textures.

According to Dr. Stephen Klineberg, demographics expert, sociologist and Rice University professor, Houston is by far the most ethnically diverse large city in the country. Its population changes are reflective of a national trend in that its Asian-American and Hispanic demographics are steadily on the rise. According to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, Asian-Americans are one of the fastest growing racial groups in the country. The Asian population grew by 3.5 percent, while the next fastest growing was Hispanics with a 2.2 percent increase.

With this cultural diversity in LifeGift’s Donation Service Area (DSA), come challenges in organ, eye and tissue donation authorization rates. According to the Association of Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation (AMAT), one’s culture is often a reason why those diverse ethnicities do not register to be donors or decline when approached.

We recognize at LifeGift that culture – defined as the social behavior and norms found in human societies – needs to be taken into consideration before talking with a family or individual about organ donation.

“Our family care specialists must be in tune with the various cultural norms seen across the extremely diverse populations we work with,” said Schawnte’ Williams-Taylor, director of family care services for LifeGift. “There is no cookie-cutter approach to talking to a family about this sensitive topic. Everything starts with respect, knowledge about their culture and embracing the human aspect of our lifesaving mission.” 

To learn more about Houston’s diverse population, visit the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Kinder.Rice.edu.  To learn more about cultural norms and organ, eye and tissue donation, visit Amat1.org.

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