Organ donation: we can break taboos among British BAME communities

THE GUARDIAN | Nishtha Chugh

Successes in the US, Israel and Qatar prove that religious and cultural hurdles highlighted in a new report can be overcome

Few people from British BAME communities are organ donors. Photograph: thomas-digital/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock
“You need to start looking for a kidney donor right away. Start with social media and go all out.”

The tone and urgency of her doctor’s advice had left Ashley De La Mode somewhat perplexed. With just 5% kidney function remaining, the 38-year old makeup artist and single parent from London knew she needed an organ transplant sooner rather than later.

“But it was not until I was added to the transplant waiting list this year that I fully realised what my doctor had really meant,” she said. “As a black person I am facing at least a four-year wait for a new kidney. Very few black people in the UK donate organs after death. And with a rare blood group, I could end up waiting far longer.”

De La Mode is one of hundreds of patients from the UK’s black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities who are forced to wait longer than the majority of white patients due to a paucity of suitable organs from the same ethnic and racial pool. A new report from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) reveals that 21% of people who died on the waiting list last year were from a BAME background, compared with 15% a decade ago. The percentage of donors from BAME backgrounds did increase last year, but is still at just 7%. Continue reading