ACADEMICS are calling on religious leaders to become ambassadors for organ donation, and to encourage black, Asian, and minority-ethnic (BAME) communities in particular to sign the register.
Research conducted by the medical journal Transplantation Proceedings suggests that BAME communities make up 11 per cent of the UK population, but count for only 3.5 per cent of people whose ethnicity is listed on the Organ Donor Register. Of those on the UK kidney-transplant waiting list, about 30 per cent are from BAME communities.
A “Faith Action Plan” has been set up by a team of academics, led by the director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire, Professor Gurch Randhawa, and in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant, to raise awareness of organ donation, “as being acceptable within most faiths”.
The project is to deliver “tailored” messages to each religious group, in an attempt to increase the number of ethnic minorities registered for donation.
Professor Randhawa said: “International evidence shows that faith can be a major barrier to organ donation.”
The chief executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, Ian Trenholm, said: “There are currently around 6500 people in the UK on the transplant waiting list, but there are many more who desperately need a transplant, and the truth is that there are simply not enough organs available.”
The Faith Action Plan is also to be introduced in countries where consent rates to organ donation are particularly low, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Ukraine.