Dinee Simpson (GSM ’06)
Facilitating Equal Access to Organ Transplants
By David Hollander
Portrait by Carlos Diaz Ortiz
It was as a surgical trainee in Boston that Dinee Simpson, newly graduated from the Grossman School of Medicine, first became aware of the racial inequities in the organ transplant evaluation process. Poor healthcare in Black communities put residents at higher risk for diseases requiring transplants, but they were far less likely than White patients to receive treatment.
Simpson decided she would do something about this issue in her own backyard of Chicago. “As a Black woman, I thought I could build trust in a system that has historically mistreated Black patients,” Simpson says. She established the African American Transplant Access Program (AATAP), an initiative that engages with communities to improve awareness of disease prevention and treatment options.
In AATAP’s first year, the number of Black individuals evaluated at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine’s Comprehensive Transplant Center, where Simpson is an assistant professor of surgery, increased by 55 percent. (Simpson is also Illinois’s first Black female transplant surgeon.) AATAP is being hailed as a model with national potential to redress medical injustices, with providers’ ideas about who “deserves” transplants eroding.