The Decision Project
The Decision Project (TDP) is a grassroots initiative created by The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland (The LLF) that empowers people in underserved communities to designate themselves as organ donors. This is important because many of these communities also have large numbers of residents waiting for life-saving organ transplants.
RESEARCH AND GOALS
The LLF collaborated with local faith-based, healthcare, youth, and recreational organizations to collect data, share our findings, and discuss concerns surrounding donation and transplantation. Three focus groups were conducted over the course of 18 months with community members to identify attitudes and barriers towards donation. Residents shared many perspectives during these focus groups; primarily, their distrust of the medical community and the belief that they were too sick to donate.
As a result of the focus group findings, The LLF created the following goals:
Establish a strong community presence to give back to those in need
Investigate and dispel root causes of donation myths and misconceptions
Share personal testimony from transplant recipients and family members of donors
Provide reliable educational resources throughout the area
We discovered that while each goal is fundamental to increasing donor designation and authorization rates*, each neighborhood requires unique mechanisms to overcome these barriers, and that there is no “one size fits all” approach.
While The LLF makes no claim that correlation means causation, there have been significant increases in both donor designation (+500%) and authorization rates (+71%) within the priority zip code, 21215, since the implementation of The Decision Project from 2016-2019. The LLF continues to analyze these trends. Additionally, this initiative has linked services to those most in need in these communities, including fresh food accessibility, COVID-19 screenings and vaccines, accessibility of school supplies for children, and more. It is a privilege to carry out our mission and serve these communities that have traditionally struggled with access to resources.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of opportunities to safely have in-person events has been substantially reduced. The LLF has since transferred its efforts to online platforms, which understandably may not be accessible to those in underserved communities.
The continued success of TDP in 21215 has led The LLF to expand its efforts into Baltimore City’s 21205 and 21213 (East Baltimore) and Howard County’s 21044 and 21045 zip codes. We hope to determine the unique needs of these communities and increase donor designation.
KEY COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS
*Donor Designation Rate - The rate at which individuals join the state donor registry as a percentage of all driver's licenses and ID cards issued within a specific period of time.
(Donate Life America)
*Authorization Rate - The number of authorizations for organ donation, divided by the number of approaches made for potential organ donors. (The Organ Donation Alliance)