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At the age of 85, Dr. Callender has devoted his lifetime work to transplant science and donor awareness, especially among African Americans and ethnic minorities. Born in New York City, Dr. Callender was raised by his father and later by his Aunt Ella. At the age of seven, he decided to become a medical missionary. Thus begins his journey into medical science. Twenty years later he received his medical degree from Meharry Medical College. Dr. Callender completed residencies in cancer and allied disease at Harlem Hospital, Freedmen’s Hospital, and Memorial Hospital. After completing his residencies, he returned to Freedmen’s Hospital, now known as Howard University Hospital, to become Chief Resident. During his career, Dr. Callender has served as an instructor at Howard University and medical officer at D.C. General Hospital. He has also been instrumental in developing the first minority directed dialysis and transplant center at Howard University and histocompatibility and immunogenetic laboratory in the United States.
Realizing the shortage of organ donors and the fact that African Americans were rarely donors, Dr. Callender started on a quest to increase this number. That is when he founded the National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP)with a $500.00 grant from Howard University. MOTTEP’s mission is to reduce the rate and number of ethnic minority Americans needing organ and tissue transplants through disease prevention and education.
The National Minority Donor Awareness Day was introduced by MOTTEP in 1996, which then transitioned into a full month in 2004. The purpose of National Minority Donor Awareness Month is to increase the number of minorities who donate and reduce the number of individuals needing transplantation by adoption of healthy lifestyles. With organ donation organizations throughout the world helping to promote awareness of the month through donor education, encouraging donor registration and promoting healthy living and disease prevention, the number of Americans dying daily waiting for transplants has been reduced from 22 in 1996 to 17 today, while the number of minority donors has doubled.
In a published article by the Howard University newsroom staff, Dr. Callender stated, “I reflect on the days when they said it was an impossible task to increase organ donation rates in the African-American and minority community. It’s a miracle and I’m grateful. This proves that this is the ministry that God had for me and validates my life’s purpose.” As a general surgeon, Dr. Callender continues to provide care to patients at Howard University Hospital. He also continues to teach surgery at Howard University College of Medicine.
Let’s Celebrate National Minority Donor Awareness Month Together!
- Karla Perelstine, Communications Specialist
Howard University. (2019, February 12). Black History Month Living Legend: Dr. Clive O. Callender, Trailblazer in Minority Organ Donation. The Dig. Retrieved August 13, 2022, from https://thedig.howard.edu/all-stories/black-history-month-living-legend-....