A new UK Transplant campaign, which kicks off this month, will see leaflet and poster distribution teams visiting 5,000 black and Asian businesses, community centres and places of worship in towns and cities across England as part of an awareness-raising drive.
The campaign – titled ‘Can we count on you?’ – highlights the fact that black and Asian people are three times more likely to need a kidney transplant than the general population. Almost 1,800 need a transplant, and their chances of success are greater if they can be matched with a donor from the same ethnic background.
But with black and Asian people accounting for fewer than 2% of deceased donors, transplant patients from these communities typically wait twice as long as others for a suitable donor to become available. Last year, almost 60 black and Asian patients died while waiting.
The campaign urges black and Asian people to help tackle the ‘donor gap’ by discussing organ donation and signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register. The number of black and Asian people joining the register has increased in recent years, but the need for donated organs continues to rise.
The campaign also seeks to dispel some common myths that are known to affect donation rates, such as assumed religious objections. Many people cite this as a reason not to donate although none of the major faiths, including Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism, forbid it.
TV comedian Curtis Walker is one of several black and Asian celebrities fronting the campaign. He said: “The title of this campaign says it all. There are hundreds of black and Asian people on the transplant list who are counting on a donor to save their lives. The shortage of ethnic minority donors is a serious issue but it’s a problem we can all do something about by discussing donation and joining the register.”
UK Transplant campaigns and marketing manager Tamsin May added: “There is a shortage of organ donors of all ethnic backgrounds, but the problem is particularly acute among the black and south Asian communities.
“Transplants tend to be more successful when donor and recipient share the same ethnic background and the shortage of suitable donors means black and Asian people spend much longer waiting for a transplant. We need people to talk about their wishes for organ donation and join the register.”
You can find out more about organ donation and join the NHS Organ Donor Register by telephoning 0845 60 60 400 or visiting www.uktransplant.org.uk