Howard Surgeon Honored by U.S. Health Department for Creating Minority Donors Day and Increasing Minority Transplant Donors

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this month is recognizing the 15th anniversary of National Minority Donor Awareness Day and honoring Dr. Clive Callender, the professor of surgery at Howard University College of Medicine who established Aug. 1 as the date to annually focus the nation’s attention on the minority donors and minority transplant recipients.

Callender, former chair of the Department of Surgery at Howard University Hospital and College of Medicine and the first physician to perform a transplant at Howard University Hospital, named the date in 1996.

Since then, the number of minority donors has doubled.

“That’s really positive growth, and growth we want to see continue in the years to come, said Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for Health, who recorded a video with Callender promoting organ and tissue donation. 

The video and a tribute to the anniversary of National Minority Donor Awareness Day can be seen on the Health Department’s website at

“When we created National Minority Donor Awareness Day, we wanted a special day to honor the nation’s minority donors, and also to encourage more people to sign up as organ, eye and tissue donors,” said Callender, who also isfounder of the National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program.

Despite successes, Callender said, even more minority donors are needed.

“More than half of the people waiting for the gift of life are minorities,” Calendar said.  “Imagine how many more lives could be saved or enhanced, how many families would have more time together, if there were simply more donors from every ethnicity.”

Koh said last year 14,000 organ donors saved over 28,000 lives.  But with more than 111,000 people currently awaiting transplants, more donors are desperately needed.

To learn how to register as a donor in their states, Koh urged people to visit

“Encourage your family and friends to choose organ donation,” Koh said, “so they can give the greatest gift of all -- hope and life.”

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