Individuals from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities are waiting significantly longer for their kidney transplants than those from other communities due to the lack of suitable organs.

The lack of organ donation is becoming a more pressing issue in our society today. Kidney transplants are becoming more important due to a society that is experiencing a rise in the number of cases of obesity and diabetes.

Despite many high profile campaigns, only 4% of the 21 million people on the organ donor register are from BAME background.

Organs can be donated in one of two ways, donation after death or live donation.  This article is going to look at the topic of kidney donation and on how lack of donation could have a negative impact on the entire BAME community as a whole.

Low donation rates amongst BAME

  • Statistics from the latest Organ Donation Activity Report by the NHS shows that by the end of March 2013, 3/10 UK active kidney transplantation patients were from BAME communities.
  • Furthermore last year alone saw an increase in consent from minority communities from 24% to 33% however this is greatly overshadowed by the 61% maintained by the white community.
  • Median wait times of 1419-1413 days for BAME patients compare unfavourably when considered against the 1092 days for non-BAME patients. Because of these incredibly high wait times more are likely to suffer and not receive a kidney.
  • Only a small percentage (5%) of deceased donors are from BAME communities

The statistical figures quoted clearly show a great contrast between the donation rates of the BAME communities and the remaining population. Because patients from BAME communities are more susceptible to illnesses such as diabetes, they are more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the population, as they are more.

There could be a variety of reasons as to why donations are not as high amongst the BAME communities as amongst other groups. People often cite as potential barriers to donation religion, culture and traditions.

However, the table below shows the following quotes that address the potential confusion in this area.

Religion Comment
Buddhism What loss do I suffer to give an unwanted organ after my death to give another person life?”

Dr Desmond Biddulph, Chairman of The Buddhist Society

Christianity “Giving organs is the most generous act of self-giving imaginable”

Rt Revd Dr Barry Morgan,  Archbishop of Wales, 2011

Hinduism “Organ donation is in keeping with Hindu beliefs as it can help to save the life of others.”

The Late Mr Om Parkash Sharma MBE,  President, National Council of Hindu Temples

Islam “Whosoever saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.”

Holy Qur’an, chapter 5, vs. 32

Judaism “One who saves a single life – it is as if he has saved an entire world”

Pirke D’Rav Eliezer, Chapter 48

Sikhism “The Sikh religion teaches that life continues after death in the soul, and not the physical body. The last act of giving and helping others through organ donation is both consistent with and in the spirit of Sikh teachings.”

Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, UK (endorsed by Sikh Authorities in Amritsar, Punjab)


What can we do?

More could be done to educate people within the community using proven statistics to show the amount of unnecessary suffering that could be halted by donating a kidney. The processes of finding a match is made a lot easier when the donor and the receiver are from relatively similar ethnic background because some blood types are more common amongst some ethnic groups.

Better understanding and awareness around the religious preaching to increase awareness and   donation rates

NHS Organ Donor Register visit or call 0300 123 2323 or text DONATE to 62323. in the NHS Organ Donor Register visit or call 0300 123 2323 or text DONATE to 62323


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