Figures from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) show that one in four Black and Asian families refuse consent to organ donation at the point of death, despite their loved one being on the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR). This is in contrast to one in ten for the rest of the population.
As well as encouraging more people from the Black and Asian communities to join the ODR, NHSBT is urging those already on the ODR to discuss their decision with their families. This will help ensure their choices are honoured at the critical time.
Currently, 2,741 people in the UK in need of an organ transplant are from ethnic minority groups. While the number of ethnic minorities joining the Register has increased in recent years, just 0.4* percent of those on the ODR are Black and only 1.3* percent are from the Asian community.
However, these groups are three times more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the population. This is because they are more susceptible to developing diabetes and high blood pressure which can lead to kidney and heart failure. As a result of higher demand and a shortage of organ donors – on average Black and Asian people have to wait three times longer than others for a transplant.
Anthony Clarkson, Assistant Director of Organ Donation at NHSBT said: “Currently 26 percent of people waiting for an organ transplant are from ethnic communities. The majority need a kidney transplant. Successful transplants can be carried out between people from different ethnic groups, but patients from the same ethnic group are more likely to be a close match. To ensure all patients have the opportunity of a successful transplant it is absolutely critical that people from all ethnic backgrounds sign up to the ODR and let their families know, so that their wishes can be respected.”
Research findings suggest that myths surrounding organ donation may create a barrier to joining the ODR amongst the Black and Asian community. Such myths include:
Myth: Organ donation is against my religion.
Fact: Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most religions. This includes: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. If you’re unsure of or uncomfortable with your faith’s position on donation, ask a member of your clergy.
Myth: Doctors won’t work as hard to save my life, if I’m on the register.
Fact: Your doctor’s primary focus is to save your life. The doctor in charge of your care has nothing to do with transplantation.
Myth: I’m not in the greatest health, and my eyesight is poor. Nobody would want my organs/tissues.
Fact: Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify you from donating organs. Only medical professionals at the time of your death can determine whether your organs are suitable for transplantation.
Supporting the campaign is This Morning TV presenter, Alison Hammond, whose 12 year old niece Jasmine Page had a heart transplant in January, she said: “We’ll forever remain grateful to the donor who saved Jasmine’s life. It’s incredibly sad to hear that in today’s society people die waiting for a transplant. Joining the register is so straightforward and quick. I can’t imagine a greater gesture than giving someone the gift of life.”
Other celebrities backing the campaign include: Ex England Footballer and Pundit – Ian Wright, Olympic athlete – Denise Lewis, Celebrity Chef – Ainsley Harriott, BBC presenter – Ade Adepitan, Singer – Raghav, Comedian and Actor – Kulvinder Ghir, Author – Roopah Farooki, Actor – Raza Jaffrey, Actor – Abhin Galeya, Musician and Actor – Riz Ahmed, Singer – Jaya and Actress – Shobu Kapoor.
The campaign will include; a tour of shopping centres in areas with a high concentration of Black and Asian communities, visits to Hindu, Sikh and Muslim faith organisations and places of worship, advertising on Black and Asian television channels, radio stations and newspapers, a Facebook social media campaign and poster display in community shops and outlets.
Currently only 29 percent of the UK population are on the ODR, despite 90 percent of people saying they support organ donation. To add your name to the NHS Organ Donor Register, please ring 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.
* These figures represent those on the ODR who have stated their ethnicity where ethnicity has been recorded. Ethnic data has been collected through new registrations since 2002 and only through certain routes to joining.