Health Minister Jackie Doyle Price has called for people of different faiths and ethnicities to unite over a shared goal of increasing the number of organ donors.
The Minister addressed over 50 community leaders at a summit in London which saw representatives of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and other faiths gather with groups such as the National BAME Transplant Alliance to discuss the importance organ donation for their communities.
There are currently 6,000 people in need of a life-saving transplant, and approximately 29% of these are people of black and Asian ethnicities. These patients are disproportionally affected, waiting on average 6 months longer for a kidney transplant than white patients.
Opening the event, Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price said:
“Organ donation is a gift – over 50,000 people are alive in England today thanks to the selflessness of families and individuals who are willing to donate.
“But the injustice is that if you are black, Asian or from another ethnic minority you have less chance of receiving an organ than white patients – all for the lack of match donors willing to come forward and donate.
“This means that a staggering 29% of the transplant waiting list – or nearly 2,000 patients – are made up individuals from these backgrounds who are desperately fighting for their lives whilst waiting for an organ.
“This is why I am here today. As community leaders you can make a real difference – just 100 more donors can save 228 lives. I am calling on you to use your influence to dispel the myths and encourage your communities to give the gift of life.”
The all-day event was hosted by the Department of Health and Social Care in the Royal Society, London.
Attendees heard first hand experiences of transplant recipients, before remarks from Orin Lewis, Co-chair of the NBTA; Sally Johnson Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHSBT; Bimbi Fernando, Consultant Transplant Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital and Angie Ditchfield a Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation.
Orin Lewis, Co-chair of the National BAME Transplant Alliance said,
“As Co-Chair of the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA) and Co-Founder of the ACLT, I was delighted to be able to actively participate in yesterday’s all important Engaging Faith Groups in Organ Donation summit.
“I stand shoulder to shoulder with Jackie Doyle-Price MP and other stakeholders in raising much needed awareness, and changing attitudes and behaviour, in order to register many more BAME people to consent to save lives.”
The summit follows the Government’s recent consultation into opt-out organ donation which saw over 17,000 responses, a significant proportion of which was from ethnic minorities.
The need for more ethnic minority donors is critical. Last year just over six percent of deceased donors were from Black and Asian communities.
To register as an organ donation visit: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk//register-to-donate/register-your-details/