New briefing to coincide with National Transplant Week

Posted on Wed 6 Jul 2011

New briefing to coincide with National Transplant Week
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The Race Equality Foundation has released a new research briefing on the need for organ donors from black and minority ethnic communities.

Better Health 23 shows that people in the UK who come from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are three times as likely to require a kidney transplant, and can wait twice as long for an organ as those from an equivalent white background.

According to Gurch Randhawa - Professor of Diversity in Public Health and Director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire - who conducted the study, the increased demand for organs from minority ethnic communities is due to a complicated combination of factors. These include genetic predisposition to conditions such as diabetes, which may affect kidney health, as well as an increased prevalence of diseases such as viral hepatitis which can cause liver failure.

Figures gathered for Professor Randhawa’s research show that around 15 per cent of those waiting for a kidney transplant in the UK are from a South Asian background, despite representing only four per cent of the general population. For those waiting for a donation, only one per cent of people on the Organ Donor Register are South Asian, leaving a pool of over 1000 recipients waiting for donors.

Professor Randhawa said: “Matching organs from donors to recipients by ethnic group increases the likelihood of a successful transplant. The research I’ve undertaken suggests that black and minority ethnic groups may actually be unaware of the specific need for organs from within their community, and this is one reason why those in need of a transplant might wait longer for an appropriate match. 

“Another influencing factor could be that the members of some communities see their religion as a barrier to donation. We have already been working via a series of national and local events to build partnerships with faith leaders who have lent their support to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation.”  

The study also shows that black and minority ethnic groups often suffer poorer access to health services, due to barriers including language, poverty and perceptions of being ‘hard to reach’.  The study therefore recommends a ‘two-pronged’ approach, tackling barriers to increase minority ethnic organ donation in the short term, and in the longer term, employing preventative health outreach methods to limit the prevalence of conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease and hepatitis.

The Race Equality Foundation seeks to explore what is known about discrimination and disadvantage, and to use this evidence to develop interventions that overcome barriers and promote race equality in public services.

It regularly publishes Better Health briefing papers which are written by experts to provide the latest evidence on the health experiences of black and minority ethnic communities. Professor Randhawa’s briefing will be released to help raise awareness during National Transplant Week (4).

Notes

  1. The Race Equality Foundation promotes race equality in social support - what families and friends do for each other - and public services  - what 'workers' do with people who need support.  It is a Department of Health Strategic Partner, and have produced a range of evidenced-based research and interventions to promote equality. For more information go to  www.raceequalityfoundation.org.uk
  1. Professor Gurch Randhawa Gurch is Professor of Diversity in Public Health and Director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire and an international expert on the development of patient-centred care pathways in diabetes, kidney disease, transplantation, and end-of-life care amongst diverse communities. Prof Randhawa was also recently a member of the Department of Health’s Organ Donation Taskforce, chairing the Social & Cultural Expert Working Group.
  1. For more information, to obtain the complete study and to arrange interviews with Prof Randhawa please contact Kat Nower on 01618 399799 or visit the Better Health website, www.better-health.org.uk .
  1. National Transplant Week runs from Monday, 4 July to Sunday, 10 July 2011 and is centred around a campaign called 'What Are You Waiting For?'. You can find out more about organ donation and join the NHS Organ Donor Register by telephoning 0300 123 23 23 or visiting www.organdonation.nhs.uk.

See press releases for this paper: