NHS targets BAME people in organ donor recruitment drive

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has launched a new 'Words save lives' campaign as part of its push to reduce the number of people from BAME backgrounds who die every year while waiting for a transplant.

One of the images being used in the new campaign (Pic credit: NHSBT)
One of the images being used in the new campaign (Pic credit: NHSBT)

The bid to increase the number of donors from these groups has been prompted by growing concern over the numbers of BAME people who die before a donor can be found – accounting for 21 per cent of all those who died on the waiting list last year, up from 15 per cent a decade ago.

Only seven per cent of donors last year were from BAME backgrounds.

The campaign aims to open up discussions about organ donation and break down barriers, so that families are more likely to agree to donate a relative’s organs after death.

People from BAME communities are more likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis than white people, making them more likely to need a transplant, according to NHSBT.

Some 31 per cent of people waiting for a transplant across the UK are from BAME backgrounds.

The campaign aims to increase the proportion of people from these groups who would consider donating organs from the current level of 69 per cent to closer to the national average of 80 per cent. It also seeks to encourage more BAME people to discuss it and tell their loved ones that they want to be a donor.

The need to talk about organ donation, organ donors saving lives and the disproportionate number of black and Asian people who die while waiting for a donated organ are among the key messages of the campaign, which will run until March 2019.

NHSBT is spending £600,000 on promoting organ donation in BAME communities throughout 2018-19.

A series of short films featuring people whose lives have been saved, as well as families who have given consent for their loved ones to become donors after their death, are being promoted on social media.

Media partnerships and sponsorship of targeted podcasts are among the ways in which the campaign will seek to reach BAME communities, as well as working with community groups and faith leaders.  

It is being supported by health minister Jackie Doyle-Price, who described it as "a driving force to save more lives" and said: "The government, MPs, faith leaders, charities, campaigners, influencers, friends and families all have a role to play to address myths and barriers and bring attention to the lifesaving power of donation."

NHSBT will assess the impact of the campaign through attitudinal research – analysing the results of an annual tracking survey to gauge any changes in terms of people supporting organ donation, wanting to become donors and having told their loved ones that they want to donate their organs.

Anthony Clarkson, interim director of organ donation and transplantation at NHSBT, said: "Although many black, Asian and ethnic minority patients are able to receive a transplant from a white donor, others may die if there is no donor from their own community."

He added: "We are asking more people from these communities to talk about organ donation and share their donation decision with their families. Words save lives."

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