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PRICE OF A LIFE: We need more ethnic minorities to donate organs
In the last of our series on organ donation, EMMA DUNN looks at the need for ethnic minorities to sign up to the register
MORE people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are urgently needed to sign up to the organ donation register.
People of these ethnicities are three times more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the population, but fewer than two per cent have recorded their wishes on the NHS Organ Donation Register.
Father-of-two Hemant Bhakta, of West Swindon, said his life has been transformed through a kidney transplant.
Hemant, who works at a newsagent in Cavendish Square, was on the register for two years before a suitable donor was found.
“It completely changed my life. Before the transplant, my life was going downwards, but it has helped improve my life so much,” he said.
“It has stopped all the pain and doing the dialysis.”
Hemant, who is Asian and signed up to the organ donor register while he was at college, said he is unsure as to why there is a lack of black and minority ethnic people signed up.
“As far as I am aware, there are no religious reasons,” he said.
“When I was at college it seemed better advertised, but these days if people have to go and look for it, I don’t think they will do it.
“I definitely think knowing somebody that has been through it like myself has encouraged people that I know to sign up, it has definitely made a difference to them.
“Myself, my family and friends are just so grateful that there was a transplant available, you just can’t quantify it but we are so thankful that the donor signed up, they have transformed my life.”
Two reports published this month by the National Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Transplant Alliance show that donors from BAME must urgently come forward if the prospects for those requiring transplants are to improve.
The findings show there has been little change in the number of donors after death from BAME background over the last four years. The national figure remains below 50 BAME donors per year.
Findings also show there has been an increase in the number of BAME patients awaiting an organ. Around 25 per cent of those on the transplant waiting list are from BAME background.
And while numbers of some ethnicities joining the organ donation register have gone up, there has been no increase in those from a Pakistani, Bangladeshi or African-Caribbean background.
Kirit Modi, joint-chairman of NBTA and acting chairman of the National Kidney Federation, said: “The findings highlight the fact that a more strategic approach is needed to address the challenges facing patients from BAME background. The responsibility rests with the NHS, NHSBT, hospitals as well as the BAME communities themselves.
“NBTA has started working with key partners in this area and will closely monitor what happens as the new Organ Transplantation 2020 Strategy is implemented from April 2013 onwards."
To join the organ donor register, visit www.organ donation.nhs.uk.