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Church leaders come together at Easter to address urgent need for organ and blood donors of Black heritage
Church leaders from Black Christian organisations are joining together this Easter to urge more people of African, Caribbean or mixed ethnicity to become blood and organ donors.
Faith leaders from 30 church organisations across the country are joining with NHS Blood and Transplant to support the 2022 ‘Give Hope This Easter’ campaign.
They are calling on members of the Black Christian community to register to give blood and to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, sharing this decision with their family.
It comes ahead of a summit of Black faith leaders in London on April 19 to discuss ways to tackle the barriers to donation in the African and Caribbean communities and raise awareness of the need for more donors.
More people of African, Caribbean, or mixed ethnicity are urgently needed to become blood and organ donors.
The best chance of a match for patients needing a blood transfusion or a kidney transplant is most likely to come from donors from the same ethnic background.
The shortage of donors means patients who are of Black heritage and in need of blood or a kidney transplant are waiting significantly longer for a transplant or receive a less well-matched blood transfusion.
There are currently 607 patients of Black ethnicity waiting for a transplant.
Sickle cell is a blood disorder more common in African or Caribbean people which requires regular blood transfusions to help treat and prevent painful symptoms and complications.
Ethnically matched blood gives patients the best chance for long-term health and donors of Black ethnicity are 10 times more likely to have the sub-type Ro that is needed to treat many sickle cell patients.
Bishop Mark Nicholson, from ACTS Christian Ministries, has been giving blood since the 1980s but it was only after a recent donation that he realised he had the rare yet highly in demand Ro blood type that is most often needed by people with Sickle Cell disease.
Inspired by this Bishop Mark organised a blood donation event for people of Black ethnicity in Croydon.
Bishop Mark said: “It was an amazing feeling to know I had this important blood sub-type Ro and I connected it to my spirituality - to know that I can do this one simple thing to help save lives in the Black African and Caribbean community was incredible.
“And this is particularly important at Easter time, as it reminds me of the gift of life that Jesus gave for others and how we as a community can follow his example and help our friends and neighbours through the gift of donation.”
When it comes to organ donation, a recent report found that 39.5% of Black, Asian, mixed heritage or minority ethnic families agreed to support donation going ahead, compared to 69% of families from White backgrounds.
When asked, the majority of these families said they didn’t know what their relative would have wanted or that they didn’t feel they knew enough about organ donation.
Some were still unsure about how organ donation fitted with their faith and beliefs.
Faith leaders from all religious backgrounds have spoken out in support of organ donation and all major religions within the UK have pledged support for organ donation in principle.
Paul Rochester, general secretary of the Free Churches Group, said: “We are pleased to be working with the NHS Blood and Transplant team on this event.
“It is important for Churches to use their networks and influence, to encourage new donors from Black, Asian, mixed heritage and minority ethnic communities to come forward and give blood.
“I also want to encourage people from these communities to talk about organ donation with their families this Easter and share their decision with them, because the gift of life through transplantation is a wonderful thing.”
Listen to writer, presenter and interviewer Cole Moreton speak about the importance of organ donation and talking to your family about your organ donation decision
The campaign is also backed by Gospel singer and songwriter, broadcaster and host of Premier Radio Muyiwa Olarewaju who is giving support for organ and blood donation in a series of social media videos.
Muyiwa Olarewaju said: “I never want to live with the thought that I could have done more to help, to save someone in need. Love always gives”
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This Easter I urge people to give hope to those on the waiting list for a transplant or who rely on blood transfusions, by discussing becoming blood and organ donors with their loved ones.
“People from Black communities have to wait significantly longer for an organ match and are more likely to suffer from sickle cell disease which requires regular transfusions.
“Addressing these long-standing health disparities is one of my top priorities and we need all communities to work together to save and transform the lives of thousands of people.”
Geraldine Parker, National Community Engagement Manager at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Easter is an important time of reflection, of hope and of celebrating the gift of life.
“With the support of church leaders we hope that this message of compassion will inspire more people in the Black Christian community to become blood and organ donors.
“Blood donation is quick and easy and you can save up to three lives in just one hour.
“Over 60% of people from Black heritage, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds tell us that they would be willing to donate their organs after death, however it is important people know that families will still be consulted before donation goes ahead. So please speak with your family this Easter to share your decision and record it on the NHS Organ Donor Register.”
We are urging people to register their organ donation decision and to share their decision with their family. You can register your decision online or call 0300 123 23 23.
Become a blood donor. Register today and book an appointment online, by calling 0300 123 23 23, or by downloading the GiveBloodNHS app.
Picture: Bishop Mark Nicholson donates blood
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