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Royal honour for promoting blood and organ donation to BMEs

ROYAL HONOUR: Dapo Odumeru

A HARDWORKING National Health Service (NHS) worker has been given a royal honour.

Dapo Odumeru, who has been with NHS Blood and Transplant since 2005, made it his personal mission to raise awareness of blood and organ donation with the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

His hard work has been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Odumeru, regional quality assurance manager in the South East for NHS Blood and Transplant, has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services for promoting blood and organ donation in BAME communities.

Odumeru said: “When we found out about the MBE my wife and I fell to our knees, we are so very grateful that our work raising awareness of organ and blood donation in the BAME communities and supporting blood transfusion in low income countries has been recognised.”

More people from BAME communities are needed to donate blood and register as organ donors. People from these communities are more likely to have rarer blood types and conditions like sickle cell disease, which requires regular blood transfusions.

Blood from donors with a similar ethnic background gives the best match and outcomes in the long term. However, less than 4 per cent of people who have given blood in England in the last 12 months come from BAME communities, although they make up around 14 per cent of the total UK population.

Patients from black and South Asian communities are also over-represented on the transplant waiting list as 27 per cent of patients are from ethnic minorities. Blood and tissue types need to match for a successful transplant and organs from people from the same ethnic background are more likely to be a close match.

Odumeru has Nigerian heritage and founded the Blood for Life charity in 2010 to raise awareness of blood and organ donation with the BAME communities and to support donation in low income countries, by providing medical equipment and training. Following on from his international aid work he saw encouraging blood and organ donation in the UK’s African and Caribbean communities as a calling.

“Getting the award is so very humbling, everything I’ve done would not have been possible without the support of my loving wife and family, donors and their families, colleagues within NHS Blood and Transplant and partners such as the RAFFA international development agency," Odumeru said.

“This award does not mark the end of my work, it is just the beginning. I’ll be working to engage with the community through the NHSBT Donor Ambassador Programme to encourage the BAME communities to sign up to the organ donor register and to give blood.”

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