Thousands of people in the UK are waiting for organ donation. This week, which is an organ donation week (2-6 September) shines light on the generosity of donors and the incredible impact they have on transplant recipients, and an opportunity to educate, inform and inspire people, to help save and improve more lives.
Gurch Randhawa, Professor of Diversity in Public Health and Director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire, believes that we need to address cultural as well as religious concerns to raise awareness of organ donation among different ethnicities and faith backgrounds. Prof Randhawa said, “In the UK, there were 6,077 patients waiting for a transplant at the end of March 2019. Although there has been a slight increase in the overall consent/authorisation rate for organ donation in the UK from 66% to 67% this year, with 25.3m opt-in registrations on the Organ Donor Registry, the number of patients whose lives were saved or improved by an organ transplant fell by 2% to 4,990. As these statistics reveal, more needs to be done to increase awareness of the importance of organ donation in the UK.
“One way this can be done is through promoting dialogue about organ donation with local communities and work with faith leaders across the country to raise awareness of this issue. Organ failure affects people from a wide range of social, age, gender, educational, cultural, faith and ethnic backgrounds. As such, conversations on this subject need to reach a wide breadth of ethnic and faith backgrounds.
“But we also need to be able to identify ‘cultural’ as opposed to ‘religious’ concerns. Within hospitals, there need to be clear guidelines on how to approach individuals with requests for the donation of their loved one’s organs, coupled with specific training and counselling relating to working with families from a range of ethnic and faith backgrounds.
“What’s more, the UK Government’s Organ Donation Taskforce - which was set up to identify barriers to organ donation and recommend actions to increase organ donation within the current legal framework – in collaboration with partners such as the University of Bedfordshire has started a dialogue around organ donation with local communities and work with faith leaders across the UK. Put simply, the impact of these types of initiatives aimed at potential donors and community leaders can make the difference between life and death for many.”