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Organ donation in the black community hits all-time low

CHALLENGE: African Caribbean patients who needed a kidney waited, on average, over one year longer than white patients

ORGAN DONATION in the African Caribbean community has been in consistent decline for several years. Figures recently published by NHS Blood and Transplant showed that in 2016-17:

- Only 17 people from the community came forward to save a life through donating their kidney: the lowest number in 5 years

- African Caribbean patients who needed a kidney waited, on average, over one year longer than white patients

- Just 24% of African Caribbean patients received a kidney transplant, meaning over 600 people remained in need at the end of the year

- Over 250 died while waiting for a donor.

Orin Lewis OBE, African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust Chief Executive, said: “This is a real issue facing our community. Our silent crisis needs to not be silent anymore: More donors of African Caribbean descent need to come forward and help us save lives. Too many people needlessly die waiting while friends, family and colleagues could provide a vital match. We need a game changer soon, if current trend continues the future looks bleak for our community.

"A young hairdresser from South London who we’re currently working with named Nina, donated her kidney to a girl who was desperately in need. She gave her a future again. We need to see more acts like this happening across our communities to prevent the needless suffering that patients and families endure. People can end up on waiting lists for years because of their race. The solution can only come from raising awareness within the community itself.”

PICTURED: Nina Greywood

Research findings released today (Nov 29) shows insight into the barriers between African Caribbean individuals and donation, as well as the motivations of donors themselves. It outlines that there is a large amount of scepticism and lack of trust in the NHS amongst the African Caribbean community in relation to organ donation.

Hearing hopeful stories through inter-personal engagement and knowing that peers and people from the same faith or cultural group have been both donors and recipients can encourage donation but perception that donation is incompatible with faith or culture proves a barrier.

Doubts about donation within the family often causes the biggest barriers but most potential altruistic donors will not be swayed by this but instead by the facts and evidence.

PICTURED: Eleanor Smith

Eleanor Smith, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West, said: “This needs to be a local priority within African Caribbean communities to encourage people to come forward as donors, but there are some real structural barriers that the Government and NHS need to tackle, lives are at stake. I’m proud to be leading the Labour Party Parliamentary review into BAME donation early next year and I hope it will drive real action in this area to see numbers start improving.”

ACLT is calling on people from the African Caribbean community to get in touch with them to express their interest in becoming a living organ donor. The charity will speak to each potential donor to ensure they are fully informed and guide through the process.

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