UK: NHS wants ethnic minorities to donate organs

Britain has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in Europe and doctors in UK want minorities to participate more.

    Doctors in Britain are urging ethnic minority communities to help end a serious shortage of organ transplant.

    Britain has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in Europe and according to the country's National Health Service (NHS), only 34 percent of people from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) backgrounds that consented to donating their organs.

    The figure was almost half the number of white people that had signed up.

    Nine-year-old Delano Joseph receives dialysis treatment three times a week at a children’s hospital in the UK.

    His kidneys do not function conventionally and his blood is cleaned artificially by a machine.

    Delano is on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, but is struggling to find a match due to a lack of suitable donations from the black community.

    READ MORE: Can the UK change attitudes towards organ donations?

    His mother, Diana Joseph, blames the shortage on cultural attitudes.

    “For the black community, I think it's fear," she told Al Jazeera.

    "I really think it's fear. I think it's the same for all ethnic communities. But when it comes to being under the knife, the attitude is no. It's like you're rejoicing in someone else's sorrow."

    With BAME patients making up 33 percent of the active kidney transplant waiting list, the NHS report stated that the lower rate of donation is a challenge.

    It recently launched a Campaign Video targeting Muslim and Jewish communities, in a bid to encourage more people to sign up to organ donation lists.

    Moral scepticism

    Despite most religious leaders in the UK supporting organ donations from either a living or dead person, there is still moral scepticism among many Muslims.

    Professor Nizam Mamode explained to Al Jazeera that particular minority communities can be more susceptible to certain diseases that could potentially lead to organ failure.

    “There are certain kidney diseases which are genetically related and therefore, within an ethnic group or a subdivision of an ethnic group, you may find a higher prevalence of that disease," Mamode said.

    "And there are other conditions like diabetes that are more common in the Asian community, which can lead to kidney failure."

    Last year, more than 1,300 people died either waiting on the list or becoming too sick to receive a transplant. 

    TechKnow - Lungs in a box

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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