Donor plea to black and minority ethnic communities, Scotland
Helen McArdle | Herald Scotland
Scotland’s South Asian and black communities are being encouraged to sign up to the organ donor register in a week-long campaign highlighting the shortage of ethnic minority transplant organs.
Currently, patients from black and minority ethnic backgrounds wait, on average, twice as long for kidney transplants compared with patients from the white population.
The problem is exacerbated by a higher demand for organs among black and ethnic minority communities, who are three times more likely to need a transplant than the rest of the population due to a higher incidence of diabetes and high blood pressure. This can lead to kidney failure and heart disease.
The campaign will launch on Glasgow’s largest Asian radio station, Awaz FM, tomorrow, backed by patients, medical staff and religious leaders.
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “It’s a stark reality that more than a quarter of the people waiting for a transplant are from black and minority ethnic communities. A transplant is much more likely to be successful if the donor and recipient have the same ethnic origin, but less than 5% of organ donors are from these communities.
“The shortage of suitable organs means that waiting times for black, South Asian, Chinese and other groups are much longer than those for the general population. That’s a state of affairs that can’t go on.”
Across the UK, there are 2726 black and minority ethnic (BME) people waiting for a transplant.
Doctor Rajan Madhok, who has been involved in raising awareness within the BME community, said: “Organ donation is a difficult and often taboo subject within BME communities. There’s a host of misconceptions surrounding the issue but we are working to change this, and educate everyone about the process.”
Ravinder Kaur Nijjar, chairman of the Association of Indian Organisations Health Advisory Board, said: “Serving humanity and helping others is an integral part of life for people from the Indian subcontinent. A true act of service is giving someone the chance to live a healthy life by donating an organ.”