Funding boost to tackle health inequalities and promote living kidney donation amongst Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities

26 January 2022

Seven projects have been successful in receiving a share of £100,000 funding as part of the Government’s commitment to tackle health inequalities and promote living kidney donation amongst Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

BAPS eventThe Living Kidney Transplant Scheme has been launched as part of NHS Blood and Transplant’s ongoing commitment to address the shortage of organs, particularly kidneys, for those from all Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds who are awaiting a transplant, whilst also addressing health inequalities in the wider population.

The Living Kidney Transplant Scheme is an extension of the Community Investment Scheme, which has been run by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) over the last four years. The scheme has shown that enabling grass roots organisations to champion organ donation in a culturally relevant way increases awareness and engagement, helping to move towards greater health equity for all.

For many patients in a need of a transplant the best match will come from a donor of the same ethnic background. In the UK there are currently there are 5,903 people waiting for an organ transplant. Of these there 4,676 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant and 1,554 of those are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients often have to wait significantly longer for a successful match than White patients due to a shortage of suitably matched donors. Kidney donors and recipients are matched by blood group and tissue type, which means people from the same ethnic background are more likely to have matching blood groups and tissue types.

The Living Kidney Transplant Scheme aims to address the barriers faced within these communities and provide more people with information around living kidney donation, with the aim to save more lives.

Living kidney donors can either be directed (where the donor donates to a named recipient or someone they know) or non-directed (where a donor donates anonymously to any stranger who needs it). Innovative schemes, such as the UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme, enable one non-directed altruistic donor to start a chain of transplants, making even more transplants possible.

Living kidney donation has many advantages, often taking away the need for life-restricting and intrusive dialysis treatment and it provides patients with better long-term health outcomes and life expectancy.

Find out more about living kidney donation

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“Choosing to donate a kidney is an incredibly personal decision, but it is vital all communities talk openly about the importance of this life-saving choice.

“With over 1,500 people from ethnic minority backgrounds on the waiting list, we need more people from these communities to consider becoming living organ donors.

“This funding will help community organisations to start more conversations and save more lives”.

One of the seven projects that have been selected to increase awareness of living donation is the University of Leicester’s Centre for Ethnic Health Research.

The University of Leicester applied to the scheme to set up and run an innovative virtual art exhibition to engage and educate the importance of living kidney donation amongst minority ethnic groups.

Dr. Thomas Wilkinson, Project Lead, says:

“At the Centre of Ethnic Health Research at the University of Leicester, we have experience in running various community-based health projects and increasing the awareness around living kidney donation has the opportunity to reduce transplant waiting times, especially within community groups who historically have to wait much longer.

“We believe using art to express people’s experiences of living kidney donation will help engage many members of the community. The exhibition will be open to everyone from around the country and in collaboration with the Attenborough Arts Centre in Leicester we will help bring peoples stories to life.”

Lisa Burnapp, Associate Director for Living Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said:

“Following the success of the Community Investment Scheme and the previous Living Transplant Initiative, we are thrilled to be launching the Living Kidney Transplant Scheme to help us address the health inequalities faced by many people in the Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

“We have seen first-hand the success of working with grassroot organisations that educate and engage their community as well as their peers. The seven projects that have been successful in receiving funding have great ideas and enthusiasm for living donation and we are really excited to see what they are able to achieve.

We hope that this new funding will help raise awareness and encourage more people to consider living donation. Congratulations to all who have been selected.”

Find out more about the scheme and the projects funded