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'New organ system will save lives'

ANTIPATHY: Tayo Idowu, with his sister Dela, says the government needs to address attitudes

A FATHER-of-two who is waiting for a kidney donation has welcomed government plans for a new opt-in system.

However, Tayo Idowu is urging government health ministers to recognise that more than legislation is needed to overcome the reluctance of people from BAME communities to donate organs.

The government last week announced the introduction of a new opt-out system for organ and tissue donation to tackle a shortage of organ donors faced by people like Idowu.

The new system will be in place by 2020 in England if Parliament approves the plans. Under the proposals, everyone in the UK will be considered an organ donor unless they have explicitly recorded a wish not to be and opt out.

Idowu, from south London, was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2010 and was told by doctors that if he was to have any chance of surviving and having a normal life he would need a kidney transplant.

Idowu’s chances of survival looked slim – minority ethnic families increasingly support donation but still only agree to donate 42 per cent of the time, compared with 69 per cent of white families.

Yet people from BAME communities are more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the UK as they are more susceptible to illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis, all of which may result in organ failure and the need for a life-saving transplant.

As a result of so few BAME people being on the national UK donor register, they often have to wait a year longer than a white patient for a transplant.

Many may die while waiting for an organ to become available. Luckily, Idowu received a kidney in September 2014 but after being hit by a virus the kidney failed and now the marketing professional is once again in need of a new kidney.

Idowu, who is currently attending dialysis sessions, told The Voice: “I welcome the new system because it’s something that could dramatically increase the number of organs available to the black community.

"This can only be a good thing. It can also lead to more people in our community taking a keener interest in what organ donation actually involves and being more clued- up about it.”

However, he said that more needed to be done by the government in the way of dialogue and awareness-building if BAME communities were going to engage with the new scheme.

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