Celebrities Alison Hammond, Ainsley Harriott, Tim Campbell, Ricky Whittle and Gina Yashere are backing NHS Blood and Transplant's (NHSBT) new campaign to urge more black people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR), so that more lives can be saved through organ donation.
Currently, more than 8%* of patients awaiting organ transplants are from Black communities - 648 people - yet they these communities account for only 0.4%** of those who have signed up to the Register.
Gifted artist Jane Dalton-Brown from Purley, Croydon was only 29 when she died in a tragic pedestrian accident after being hit by a truck. But she fulfilled her beliefs when she donated her organs for transplant to help others after her death.
Her brother Lloyd, who agreed to donate his sister Jane's organs said: "Before her accident Jane discussed with her friends what she would have wanted if the worst was to happen, so the decision to donate her organs was made easier. I know Jane would have been glad that her wish to donate was fulfilled because her organs helped transform the lives of five people with life-threatening conditions.
"It's such a devastating time when you lose someone. It is so important that the Black community are aware of organ donation. Very few donate their organs even though there is such a long waiting list of patients desperately needing them."
Black people are more susceptible to illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease, which may result in organ failure and the need for a lifesaving transplant, but because of a lack of suitable organs, they often wait up to three times as long for a transplant than the general population.
Daina Moyo, Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation at NHSBT said: "It is vital that more Black people join the NHS Organ Donor Register. The message is quite simple - more Black patients will have the opportunity to receive a life-saving transplant if more people from those communities join the Register.
"Transplants can be carried out between people from different ethnic groups, but an organ is more likely to be a close match, and as a result a transplant is much more likely to be successful, if the donor and recipient have the same ethnic origin. Becoming an organ donor means that you could help save or enhance up to nine lives."
A host of celebrities are getting behind the campaign which will see roadshows held in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Manchester and Leicester over the next few months to highlight the need for more organ donors. Teams will also be visiting shopping centres, churches, temples and supermarkets in a bid to boost Black and Asian numbers on the ODR.
Businessman Tim Campbell, former winner of TVs Apprentice, who is also supporting the campaign and urging more Black people to join the Register said;
"It's startling to find out that only 0.4%of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register are of Black origin - yet Black people are three times more likely to need an organ transplant than the white population. I know I would take an organ if I needed it, and I'm sure most others would, so please give someone else the gift of life by joining the Register. Carrying an organ donation card is not enough, you must join the Register and discuss your wishes with your family."
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or www.facebook.com/organdonationuk , call the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 00 00 or text ORGAN to 64118.
To find your nearest event please visit www.facebook.com/organdonationuk
Issued by COI News and PR on behalf of NHS Blood and Transplant. For interviews, case studies and celebrity endorsements, please contact Kam Phullar on 0207 261 8420 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Other celebrities endorsing the campaign include:
TV presenter, Alison Hammond: "It's difficult to put into words how grateful we are to the donor who saved my niece Jasmine's life by donating a heart to her. I can't help thinking, what if they had hesitated about joining the NHS Organ Donor Register? If you believe in organ donation, please do something amazing for your community and sign up today".
Actor, Ricky Whittle: "Tragically, numerous people die whilst waiting on the donor transplant register due to the shortage of donors in the UK. In particular, black, ethnic and rare blood groups can be forced to wait an average of 5 years or more to receive a kidney transplant among other life saving operations. I urge you to raise awareness of this shortage. Think about organ donation, think about saving lives. Join the NHS Organ Donor register today. Encourage family members to honour and respect that decision to ensure the gift of life is passed on. Be the reason loved ones across the UK are given a second chance, wouldn't you want that for yours? You have the power to save lives, make a difference."
Chef, Ainsley Harriott: "Organ donation is an issue most people don't consider until someone they love becomes ill and needs a transplant. Or people think about it but don't get round to actually signing up. Please let today be different - join the NHS Organ Donor Register and you could help to save or transform the lives of up to nine people."
Actor David Harewood: "I was shocked to find out that a Black person has to wait three times as long for an organ as a white person, simply because there aren't enough Black organ donors. Joining the NHS Organ Donor Register is a simple, selfless act that will take only a minute of your time, so please act today".
Comedian, Gina Yashere: "At this very moment, over 600 Black people are waiting for an organ transplant because there aren't enough Black people on the NHS Organ Donor Register, which is such a tragedy. Can you imagine how you would feel if it was your loved one waiting? Please join the Register today - you could help to save or transform the lives of up to nine others".
Notes to editors
* Source: NHSBT - number of black people on the 'active' transplant list at 08.09.11 was 648, which equates to 8.4% of the UK waiting list
** Source: NHSBT - number of people based on reported ethnicity on the NHS Organ Donor Register - note ethnicity has only been captured against 3,247,929 records