Urgent need for organ donations from black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic backgrounds

Organ donation card
Organ donation card

A Lancashire organisation is joining the campaign to address the urgent need for more lifesaving organ donors from black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Lancashire BME Network Ltd successfully bid for funding to carry out a project to break down myths and increase support for donation in these communities and ensure that people know that the law in England is changing next spring and understand their choices.

It is among 26 faith and community-based organisations to have secured funding to educate communities about donation after death through the BAME Community Investment Scheme led by NHS Blood and Transplant.

The scheme is part of a Government-funded campaign to address the critical shortage of organ donors from black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Lancashire BME Network Ltd will use the funding to build on the work it has been undertaking in the local Muslim community after receiving funding under the previous round of the Community Investment Scheme.

Its ‘Hearts and Minds’ project will support Imams to hold information sessions in their communities and deliver training around the new fatwa for organ donation.

From spring 2020 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 ‘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 this year and will also be introduced in Scotland in autumn 2020. Families will still always be involved in organ donation, so it is vital that they know your 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.”

The Community Investment Scheme was open to any faith or community-based organisation working within black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic communities in England and Wales.

Organisations were invited to bid by outlining how their project could positively engage their community in organ donation. All applications were reviewed by an independent judging panel.

Millie Banerjee, Chairman of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We know that trusted, community-led or local organisations can make a real difference in dispelling myths, overcoming barriers and changing attitudes to organ donation.

“This passion for saving lives will, I hope, encourage more people from black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic backgrounds to decide they want to be an organ donor and share that decision with their families.”

The National BAME Transplant Alliance 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.