Organisations in England given funding to encourage organ donation in the Black Community

Organisations in Londonand Manchester received funding from the Community Investment Scheme to increase organ donation among ethnic minority communities.

The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), One World Foundation, Caribbean & African Health Network (CAHN) Greater Manchester and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust’s Kidney Patients Association are launching projects that will run until the summer. All applied for a share of the £140,000 funding pot of this Government campaign led by NHS Blood and Transplant and supported by the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA).

Representatives from organisations involved in the
Community Investment Scheme
Credit: NHSBT

Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price, said: “If you are black or Asian, you will wait on average half a year longer for a matching donor than if you are white. Those six months could be a matter of life or death. We must address this by empowering communities to own the conversation around organ donation. Giving the gift of an organ is a deeply personal decision and I hope that the projects funded through this scheme will help people to make an informed choice.”

Black and Asian people are more likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis than white people. This increases their probability of needing an organ transplant.  Kidney transplants are the most common transplants in the UK. According to the 2017/2018 NHS report on organ donation and transplant, the median waiting time for a black person to receive a kidney is just over two and a half years compared to just under two years for white people.

The Royal Free London Kidney Patients Association will encourage young people to become organ donation ambassadors, by collaborating with Up Thinking JUT CIC and Creative Youth Zone. The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) project aims to challenge attitudes towards organ donation through school presentations and community events. The ‘Precious Life Savers’ project by CAHN aims to engage black faith leaders and their congregations.

Faye Bruce and Rev Charles Kwaku-Odoi: Caribbean & African Health Network Manchester
Credit: NHSBT

Rev Charles Kwaku-Odoi of CAHN said: “It was through our work with NHS Blood and Transplant specialist nurses that we became aware of the disproportionately high number of black people waiting for a transplant, and the shortage of donors.

“Over 80 percent of our community are involved with a church, and we feel that recruiting faith leaders as ambassadors and engaging people in church settings can be really effective ways to reach people with a positive organ donation message.”

There is a legacy of mistrust between ethnic minorities and the healthcare system when it comes to organ donation, and some believe cultural myths and their religion prevent them from donating much need organs.

According to the BBC, research indicates religious and cultural beliefs are the main barriers to organ donation among ethnic communities. Some of the concerns around organ donation were discussed in an episode of The Grapevine last week. Whether valid or not, these trust issues must be addressed for organ donation rates to increase in the black and ethnic minority communities.

To join the organ donor list and find out more about ethnic minority organ donation, visit the NHS Blood and Transplant website.

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