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Organisations representing a diverse range of faiths and communities in England and Wales are joining the campaign to address the urgent need for black, Asian and minority ethnic organ donors.
Twenty-five projects which aim to encourage people from these backgrounds to become lifesaving organ donors have secured funding after bidding for a share of a £140,000* Community Investment Scheme funding pot.
The scheme is part of a Government campaign led by NHS Blood and Transplant, with support from the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA), to break down myths and barriers and increase support for organ donation among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
Health Minister, Jackie Doyle-Price, said: “The projects receiving funding today will spread the message about the priceless gift of organ donation up and down the country - at a community level, where it has the strongest impact.
“If you are black or Asian, you will wait on average half a year longer for a matching donor than if you are white. Those six months could be a matter of life or death. We must address this by empowering communities to own the conversation around organ donation.
“Giving the gift of an organ is a deeply personal decision and I hope that the projects funded through this scheme will help people to make an informed choice.”
Organisations representing Jain, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Swahili, black and Asian Christians, black African and Caribbean and multi-faith groups were among the successful bidders from a field of 40 applications.
The organisations are now preparing to launch their projects which will reach people across London, the Midlands and the North West of England, as well as in Cardiff, Bristol, Leeds and Newcastle.
The projects vary and include awareness events and workshops, outreach activity at community and faith gatherings, information leaflets, videos and films, and online and social media campaigns.
The Caribbean & African Health Network (CAHN) in Greater Manchester has received funding for its Precious Life Savers project which aims to engage black faith leaders and their congregations.
Rev Charles Kwaku-Odoi of CAHN said: “It was through our work with NHS Blood and Transplant specialist nurses that we became aware of the disproportionately high number of black people waiting for a transplant, and the shortage of donors.
“Over 80 percent of our community are involved with a church, and we feel that recruiting faith leaders as ambassadors and engaging people in church settings can be really effective ways to reach people with a positive organ donation message.”
Faye Bruce, Chair of CAHN, said: “This Community Investment Scheme funding will help us to carry out this work in churches across Greater Manchester, helping to overcome the cultural myths around organ donation and raise awareness of this urgent issue affecting our community.”
The scheme was open to any faith or community-based organisation working within black, Asian and minority communities in England and Wales.
Organisations were invited to bid for funding by outlining how they could build support for organ donation, and all applications were reviewed by an independent judging panel.
Anthony Clarkson, Interim Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The number of applications for funding reflects the passion for promoting organ donation and saving lives that exists in organisations across the spectrum of faiths and communities in the UK.
“Fantastic work is already taking place within communities right across the country. We are delighted to have been able to formalise our support for this community-led work through the Government’s campaign and this funding.
“Hearing a positive organ donation message from a trusted, community-led or local organisation will, we hope, encourage more people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to decide that they want to be a lifesaving organ donor and to share that decision with their families.”
The organisations leading the projects will evaluate their work after the projects have finished in the summer. This insight will help understanding around the different approaches that can be taken to break down barriers towards organ donation.
*A total of £140,978 was awarded to 25 projects. This was funded by the Department of Health and Social Care with a contribution of £2,933 from the Welsh Government to support two projects that will be delivered in Wales and England.
Photos of the successful community and faith-based groups and other images are available on request.
While there is an urgent shortage of organs for transplant for people from all backgrounds, the problem is particularly acute for black, Asian and minority ethnic patients.
These patients are over-represented on the waiting list. They are more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the population as they are more susceptible to illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, which could result in organ failure.
Although many black, Asian and minority ethnic patients can receive a transplant from a white donor, for many the best match will come from a donor from the same ethnic background.
Black, Asian and ethnic minority families are less likely to discuss organ donation and are much more likely to decline to donate organs for lifesaving transplants.
NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We provide the blood donation service for England and the organ donation service for the UK. We also provide donated tissues, stem cells and cord blood. We are an essential part of the NHS, saving and improving lives through public donation.
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All the major religions and belief systems in the UK support the principles of organ donation and transplantation.
Faith and belief-specific donor cards are available to download, print and share.