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NHS Blood And Transplant Launch BME Organ Donation Campaign

October 14, 2017

A host of celebrities from the British Asian, African and Caribbean communities joined forces today to launch a campaign designed to raise awareness and encourage members of South Asian and Black communities to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Comedian and actor Kulvinder Ghir, TV presenters Sonia Deol and Ama Ababrese, singer Jaya and former MC turned actor Ashley Walters came together at London's Hammersmith Hospital (part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust) to 'Prove' they care about the lack of organ donors from BME backgrounds.

As well as increasing awareness about organ donation, the campaign aims to challenge the misconceptions surrounding the issue through the innovative use of drama in a series of Street Plays that will visit key locations around the country in the coming weeks. The campaign will support the decision-making process by providing the community with unique insight into the experiences of patients currently on the transplant waiting list as well as the opportunity to see the positive impact of donation from a donor family's perspective.

Kulvinder Ghir, who will be taking the lead role in the Asian version of the Street Play said: "Organ donation is a difficult and often taboo subject within our communities, with a host of misconceptions. Being a part of this campaign and taking messages to the heart of the community is going to be challenging, but if I can change people's attitudes and get the community to realise the importance of joining the NHS Organ Donor Register then I will have made use of my celebrity status."

The need for a specific campaign to reach the Asian and Black communities is highlighted by some disturbing facts:

- People from the South Asian and Black communities living in the UK are three times more likely to need a kidney transplant

- But just 1.2% of people from the south Asian community and 0.4% of people from Black communities have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register.

- A transplant is more likely to be successful if the donor and recipient are from the same ethnic group

- Due to the shortage of compatible donors, South Asian and Black patients on average have to wait nearly twice as long as a white person for an organ to become available.

The press conference was hosted by the Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, Lynda Hamlyn, who presented an overview of the new campaign and its key messages. She said "The facts speak for themselves in making a compelling case for everyone to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, but it is a particularly urgent call to members of the South Asian and Black communities to take action, join the Register and to help save the lives of people who may otherwise die waiting for an organ transplant."

The celebrities were also joined by a number of patients and their families, all of whom will play an active role in the campaign to demonstrate the impact that organ donation has had or could have on their lives.

Donna Okuffo, who spent five years waiting for a kidney transplant said: "This is the one time that race does matter. Most people from our communities are oblivious to the fact that not only are people from the Asian and Black communities more likely to need a transplant, but that we have the lowest numbers on the NHS Organ Donor Register. I had to wait five years and I was one of the lucky ones. There are people who will spend the rest of their lives just waiting in hope."

Sitting alongside Donna was Bobby Mudhar, whose brother Mandip was tragically killed in a road traffic accident at the age of 20. He says: " Upon hearing Mandip would not recover consciousness, we as a family decided to donate Mandip's heart and two kidneys'. His heart was given to a middle aged man and his two kidneys to a young mother and a girl of 14 who were reliant on dialysis. It gives us great comfort to know that despite our tragic loss, Mandip has given hope to three families. We hold a charity football tournament every year in Mandip's memory and next year will be our 10th Anniversary."

To echo the messages further, Professor Gurch Randhawa, who was a Member of the Organ Donation Taskforce and Alia Rashid, a Donor Transplant Co-ordinator, also talked about organ donation and their experiences.

The campaign will launch this coming weekend with the first of the Street Plays taking place in Birmingham on Soho Road and Lozells Road. The Street Plays will be supported by a series of talks by transplant patients and health professionals in local gurudwaras, temples and churches in each of the key locations of the campaign.

Also lending their support to the campaign are actors Meera Syal and Will Johnson. Notes

1. There are currently more than 16.9 million people on the NHS Organ Donor Register, but only 1.2% of these are from the Asian community and 0,.4% of these from Black communities.

2. There are currently 1521 South Asians and 779 members of the Black community who are in need of a transplant

3. NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a Special Health Authority in the NHS. It is the organ donation organisation for the UK, with responsibility for matching and allocating donated organs. Its remit also includes the provision of a safe, sufficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS.

4. The NHS Organ Donor Register records the details of people who have registered their wishes to donate organs and/or tissue after their death for transplantation. This information is used by authorised medical staff to establish whether a person wanted to donate.

5. It's simple to join the ODR by:

- going to organdonation.nhs/roadshow
- ringing 0300 123 23 23
- texting REGISTER to 84880

6. Anyone can register on the ODR. Age isn't a barrier to being an organ or tissue donor and neither are most medical conditions. People in their 70s and 80s have become donors and saved many lives.

7. One donor can save or transform up to 9 lives and many more can be helped through the donation of tissues.

8. There are currently 7,936 people in the UK on the active waiting list for an organ transplant. This figure changes constantly as people join and leave the transplant list. A further 2,577 people are on the suspended list because they are too ill or unable to receive a transplant at present. This brings the current total needing an organ transplant in the UK to 10,513.

9. Last year (2008/09), 3513 organ transplants were carried out in the UK, thanks to the generosity of 1853 deceased and living donors - the highest on record.

10. The BME Campaign will be visiting the following areas over the forthcoming weeks:

- London
- Coventry
- Leicester
- Birmingham
- Manchester
- Leeds

NHS Blood and Transplant