Urgent action needed as report highlights black and minority ethnic donation ‘gap’

Posted on Tue 12 Feb 2013

Urgent action needed as report highlights black and minority ethnic donation ‘gap’
Share this

A report published today by the National Black and Minority Ethnic Transplant Alliance (NBTA) shows that donors from black and minority ethnic backgrounds must urgently come forward if the prospects for those requiring transplants are to improve.

For the first time, UK organ and stem cell data on black and minority ethnic donation (BAME) has been analysed. The results raise a number of serious concerns about BAME donation that urgently need to be addressed. The findings show: On organ donation,

  • There has been little change in the number of donors after death from BAME background over the last four years. The national figure remains below 50 BAME donors per year. 
  • There has been an increase in the number of BAME patients awaiting an organ. Around 25% of those on the transplant waiting list are from BAME background. 
  • While numbers of some ethnicities joining the organ donation register have gone up, there has been no increase in those from a Pakistani, Bangladeshi or African-Caribbean background. 

 On stem cell donation 

  • A multi-pronged approach is needed to meet the needs of BAME patients. More BAME donors must be recruited to the registers, more cord blood from BAME mothers should be collected, and the establishment of registers in countries of origin of BAME people should be supported.
  • More must be done to encourage people from BAME background to register as bone marrow donors. 

Kirit Modi, Joint-Chair of NBTA and Acting Chair of the National Kidney Federation, said:

"The findings highlight the fact that a more strategic approach is needed to address the challenges facing patients from BAME background. The responsibility rests with the NHS, NHSBT, hospitals as well as the BAME communities themselves. NBTA has started working with key partners in this area and will closely monitor what happens as the new Organ Transplantation 2020 Strategy is implemented from April 2013 onwards."

Orin Lewis, Joint-Chair of the NBTA and Chief Executive of the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), said:

“The report findings highlight the very serious issues relating to registering, retaining and converting matching bone marrow/stem cell donors from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. It also reflects upon the absence of key ethnicity data to better inform initiatives to improve the provision of stem cells for BAME patients in addition to promoting cord blood provision as an important initiative to improving stem cell provision for BAME patients. We can see there is a necessity for a united, collaborative and coordinated approach between the Aligned UK Registry, Transplant Centres and the community based NBTA affiliated partner organisations. We need urgent action to address the fact that 90% of white Caucasian patients in need of a bone marrow transplant may find a match, while for BAME individuals the matching rate can be as low as 30%-40%.” NBTA ambassador Alesha Dixon, said: “Black and Asian people are dying because there are not enough people from our communities coming forward as stem cell or organ donors. We can change this. I am honoured to be a Donor Ambassador for the NBTA.”