Spreading the word on organ donations

Community investment boost aims to change attitudes – and save lives

EMPOWERING OTHERS TO MAKE A DECISION: Abiola Okubanjo, third from left, with other members of the Action on Blood team, who want to encourage blood and organ donations

HEALTH AUTHORITIES are hoping a Community Investment Scheme that supports 26 regional organisations to the tune of over £200,000 will help recruit organ donors from black and minority ethnic backgrounds ahead of a change in the donation law in England.

From this spring, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate – known as an ‘opt out’ – or are in one of the groups not covered by the new law.

An opt-out system for organ donation was introduced in Wales in December 2015 and in Jersey in July 2019, and will also be introduced in Scotland in the autumn. Families will still always be involved in organ donation, so it is vital that they know the potential donors’ choice.


Caroline Dinenage, minister for care, said: “It is fantastic that more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are considering organ donation than ever before. “But it is a distressing fact that people from these communities are less likely to get a transplant than if they were white.

“We all have a role to play – the government, communities, families and friends – in breaking down the myths and perceived barriers that surround organ donation. I am delighted to see the projects that will be delivering this vital work as part of our Community Investment Scheme and how they will change attitudes and save lives.”

“It is a distressing fact that BAME people are less likely to get a transplant”

Caroline Dinenage, minister for care

The National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA) is supporting NHS Blood and Transplant in the campaign to address the need for black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic donors, which was launched in summer 2018.

Kirit Modi, honorary president of the NBTA, said: “NBTA is very pleased that 26 new projects to inform black and minority ethnic communities about the change in law and increase donors from these backgrounds have been funded.

“The work of community-led organisations is vital to delivering the facts through trusted messengers. “They can help people understand that unless more people from their community come forward as organ donors, patients from their own community will continue to face unequal access to transplants.

“The BAME Community Investment Scheme is an important part of the wider activity and campaign to educate and engage these communities.


“NBTA will continue to work collaboratively with NHS Blood and Transplant and others to develop the community model so that it reaches a wider section of black, Asian and minority ethnic groups across the country in the future.”

Action on Blood, among the scheme’s recipients, will train five hair stylists and barbers across its UK salons to serve as ambassadors that can discuss organ donation with their customers and encourage them to talk to their families.

Abiola Okubanjo, CEO of Action on Blood, said: “We designed the project so that real people in the community would play a fundamental role in empowering others to make a decision about organ donation and share that decision with their families.

“Through this project we will ensure that it’s the truth that people are debating – not myth, not hearsay, not superstition. We believe it’s only when people know the truth that they can make the right decision.”

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