Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities are being encouraged to “spell out” their donation decision.
The latest “Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report” published by NHS Blood and Transplant reveals that 30% of the UK’s active kidney transplant waiting list at the end of March 2014 were from the BAME communities. However, only 25% of patients who received a kidney transplant during 2013/14 were from these communities.
On average, a BAME community patient will wait a year longer for a transplant than a White patient.
This year’s National Transplant Week runs from 7th to 13th July. The aim of the campaign is to help increase awareness that families will be asked about organ donation if their loved one is in the position to donate their organs and to encourage more people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Kidneys are allocated according to many factors, with blood and tissue type amongst the most important and matching is likely to be closer when the ethnicity of the donor and recipient are closer.
Since only 6% of deceased donors are from BAME communities, this can delay a suitably matched kidney being found for BAME patients.
Last year was another record year for organ donation and transplantation in the UK. More than 4,600 transplants were carried out with 3,509 patients benefitting from organs donated after death.
Out of the 1,320 deceased donors in the UK, only 74 were from BAME communities. Of those: 39 were Asian; 17 were Black; and 18 were from other ethnic backgrounds.
Figures from NHS Blood and Transplant reveal that families are more likely to agree to organ donation going ahead if they were aware of their loved one’s decision to be a donor. It is therefore important for you to talk to those closest to you about your organ donation decision.
In the past year there has been a slight increase in consent among BAME families. Just over a third (35.9%) approached about organ donation said yes in 2013/14 compared to 33% a year ago. Although this is encouraging progress, this figure still lags behind the consent rate seen in white families which currently stands at 63.3%.
Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant’s Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation, said: “Patients from Black, Asian and some ethnic minority communities are more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the population as they are more susceptible to illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis, all of which may result in organ failure and the need for a lifesaving transplant.
“Although 28 percent of patients currently waiting for a transplant are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, only six per cent of the organ donors in 2013/2014 were BAME. The figures simply do not stack up. I urge people from BAME communities to donate their organs when and if they can. Until they do so, people from their own communities will wait longer for a transplant and may die before a donor organ becomes available.”
The campaign is backed by actor Wil Johnson, who until recently was an actor in Emmerdale. He said: “This is the third year in a row that I’ve been involved with the campaign. When I first got involved, a lot of the Afro-Caribbean communities had little or no knowledge about the organ donor register, and had no idea how easy and simple it could be to save a life. That’s why, year after year, I feel it’s important to encourage people to sign up and tell others about their donation decision.”
Visit transplantweek.co.uk to join the NHS Organ Donor Register or call 0300 123 2323 or text SAVE to 62323.