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Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities wait longer for kidney transplants

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities wait longer for kidney transplants

NHS Blood and Transplant Media Release embargoed until 00.01 hrs Weds 9th July 2014 

The latest Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report published by NHS Blood and Transplant during National Transplant Week (7-13 July), reveals that three out of ten patients on the UK’s active kidney transplant waiting list at the end of March 2014 were from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.  However, only 25% of patients who received a kidney transplant during 2013/14 were from these communities. On average, they will wait a year longer for a transplant than a White patient.*


Kidneys are allocated according to many factors, with blood and tissue type amongst the most important and matching is likely to be closer when the ethnicity of the donor and recipient are closer. As only a small percentage (6%) of deceased donors are from BAME communities, this can delay a suitably matched kidney being found for BAME patients.


Last year was another record year for organ donation and transplantation in the UK. More than 4,600 transplants were carried out with 3,509 patients benefitting from organs donated after death.


There were 1,320 deceased donors in the UK.  Only 74 of them were from BAME communities.  Of those:

  • 39 were Asian
  • 17 were Black
  • 18 were from other ethnic backgrounds


Figures from NHS Blood and Transplant reveal that families are more likely to agree to organ donation going ahead if they were aware of their loved ones decision to be a donor. This year’s National Transplant Week seeks to address this and is asking people to “spell out” their donation decision.  The aim of the campaign is to help to increase awareness that families will be asked about organ donation if their loved one is in the position to donate their organs and to encourage more people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Also pledging his support to the campaign is actor Wil Johnson.


In the past year there has been a slight increase in consent among BAME families. Just over a third (35.9 per cent) approached about organ donation said yes in 2013/14 compared to 33

per cent a year ago. Although this is encouraging progress, this figure still lags behind the consent rate seen in white families which currently stands at 63.3 per cent.


Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant’s Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation, added: “Patients from Black, Asian and some ethnic minority communities are more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the population as they are more susceptible to illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis, all of which may result in organ failure and the need for a lifesaving transplant.


“Although 28 percent of patients currently waiting for a transplant are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, only six per cent of the organ donors in 2013/2014 were BAME.  The figures simply do not stack up. I urge people from BAME communities to donate their organs when and if they can.  Until they do so, people from their own communities will wait longer for a transplant and may die before a donor organ becomes available.”


Kirit Modi, Chairman of the National Kidney Federation (NKF) said::


“I welcome the increase in the number of kidney transplants and the small increase in the number of deceased donors from an Asian background. However, we have a long way to go to reach our aspiration of becoming world class and the NKF will continue to both support and challenge NHS Blood and Transplant,  the four UK governments and hospitals until we have no one who dies while waiting for a kidney transplant."”


To join the NHS Organ Donor Register visit www.transplantweek.co.uk or call 0300 123 2323 or text SAVE to 62323. It’s also important to talk to those closest to you about your organ donation decision.


The full Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report 2013/14 can be viewed via: http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/statistics/transplant_activity_report/ 



For more information about the Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report, please contact the NHS Blood and Transplant Press Office via pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk or 01923 367600.  For out of hours enquiries please call: 0117 969 2444


Further information

*Median waiting times for an adult kidney transplant (for patients registered on the Transplant waiting list 1 April 2007 – 31 March 2011). 1,363 days for black patients, 1,330 for Asian patients and 1,047 for white patients.


** In Scotland the term used is authorisation


In 2013/14, 541 BAME patients on the waiting list received a transplant from a deceased donor, compared to 593 during the previous 12 month period.


On 2 July 2014 1,845 (32%) of the 5,847 patients waiting for a kidney were BAME patients.


On 2 July 2014 1,976 (28%) of the 6,986 people on the active Transplant Waiting List for any type of organ, were BAME patients. 


Notes to editors

  • NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. Its remit includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales. It is also the organ donor organisation for the whole of the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
  • It’s simple to join the ODR by:
    • going to www.organdonation.nhs.uk
    • ringing 0300 123 23 23
    • texting SAVE to 62323
  • The NHS Organ Donor Register is a confidential and secure database where you can record your decision to be an organ donor
  • National Transplant Week is the annual UK-wide awareness week to increase understanding of organ donation and encourage more people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.
  • Anyone can register on the ODR. Age isn’t a barrier to being an organ or tissue donor and neither are most medical conditions. People in their 70s and 80s have become donors and saved many lives.
  • One donor can save or transform up to 9 lives and many more can be helped through the donation of tissues.