Researchers, tribal elders and health care professionals are working to bridge the gap between the decline in Native American health and living organ donations.
An associate professor at South Dakota State University's College of Nursing, Nancy Fahrenwald is collecting information from Native American dialysis patients on three reservations and providing education about the benefits and risks of living kidney donation.
The effort is in response to a long-held Lakota belief that living organ donations are not only physical sacrifices, but spiritual ones. That perspective prevents some Native Americans on dialysis from discussing donations with family members.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe member Jerry Clown's kidneys are failing. He tells the Capital Journal that he hopes a family member will offer him a kidney because he can't bring himself to ask.