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More BAME people donating organs than ever before

ORGAN DONATION: More black, Asian and minority ethnic people are becoming donors

MORE BLACK, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people are becoming organ donors than ever before but there is still a significant disparity between those donating organs and those in need of a transplant.

Data from NHS Blood and Transplant reveal that organs from 121 people from BAME backgrounds were donated after they died last year, a figure which has increased by 51 per cent in the last five years.

Last year, BAME patients accounted for a quarter of all recipients of deceased donor transplants, with 969 receiving life-saving gifts.

While the rise in donations is positive, campaigners and experts warn that there remains a stark imbalance between the numbers of BAME donors and patients who require life-saving transplants.

In March 2019, 1,883 BAME patients were listed on the transplant waiting list. The figure is four per cent smaller than the amount listed in 2014/15 but people from BAME backgrounds make up a third of those waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

Millie Banerjee, chairman of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Although the steady rise in donors and transplant recipients from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities is positive progress, the shortage of organs for transplant remains critical.

“For every person from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background who gave the gift of an organ last year, there were 15 in need of a transplant to save or drastically improve their lives. Tragically, many will die waiting.”

One of the main reasons potential deceased donors’ organs are not donated is because they have not explicitly expressed their wishes to their loved ones – 130 BAME families have refused donating their relatives’ organs as a result of this.

In addition to the lack of discussion about organ donation, families often refuse to allow their relatives’ organs to be donated because they believe it is not compatible with their religious beliefs.

“We know that families who haven’t discussed organ donation often decide it’s safer to say no when faced with the possibility of donating a relative’s organs. Not having the conversation means opportunities for life-saving transplants are being lost,” Banerjee said.

She added: “To save and improve the lives of more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, we urgently need people to decide they want to be a life-saving organ donor and share that decision with their families.”

Next year the law around organ donation will be changing in both England and Scotland. Both countries will be introducing an opt out system for organ donation, meaning all adults in England and Scotland will be considered organ donors when they die unless their opposition to donating is recorded or they are a member of an excluded group.

To find out more about organ donation and to register your decision, visitorgandonation.nhs.uk

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