Boris backs campaign to reduce waits for life-saving transplants

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Mayor of London backs transplant campaign

The Mayor of London is backing a campaign encouraging people from all ethnic backgrounds to sign up to the organ donor register – as new figures reveal black and Asian patients wait up to 12 months longer on average for a kidney transplant.

Boris Johnson says: “With almost 7,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant it is important that more people sign the organ donor register. I would particularly urge people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities to come forward. Some of these patients needing a kidney transplant can wait up to a year longer for an organ match, so it is vital that more people come forward to help save lives.”

New figures published today (Wednesday 9 July) by NHS Blood and Transplant show that the overall consent rate for London families agreeing to donate a deceased loved one’s organs is 58.4%, but drops to 36.6% for black and minority ethnic (BME) groups.

People from BME communities are more likely to need an organ transplant as they are more susceptible to illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and certain forms of hepatitis, which can cause organ failure.

Almost a third of patients on the UK transplant list are from BME communities. In London this proportion rises to two-thirds.

Organ matches are more likely when the ethnicity of the donor and recipient are close. Last year just 74 of the UK’s 1,320 deceased donors were from BME communities.

Boris Johnson met transplant patient Cash Ryan and nurses James Van Der Walt and Paula Watson to show his support for organ donation.

Cash, 44, from Camberwell, had a kidney transplant at Guy’s Hospital in February 2011. Her kidneys failed due to lupus, an autoimmune disease, and she had been on dialysis for almost five years.

She says: “I was so lucky to receive an organ from a deceased donor. It means the world because it’s a second chance at life. I can do so much more with my daughter – she was just a baby when I started dialysis and six when I had the transplant.

“I’d encourage people of all ethnic backgrounds to join the donor register. It’s painful to know a loved one is suffering, so please consider becoming a donor to ease someone’s pain.”

James Van Der Walt, specialist nurse for organ donation at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “Signing the organ donor register is just the first step – it’s really important to tell your family that you’ve done it. If you’ve talked about it they don’t have the burden of having to guess what you would have wanted at an incredibly difficult time, and they are more likely to support your wish to donate. Many families who give consent later find it a comfort to know that something positive came out of tragedy.”

In 2013-14 Guy’s and St Thomas’ carried out 263 life-saving or life enhancing organ transplants – 8% of all UK kidney transplants were carried out at Guy’s.

Only around 5,000 people each year in the UK die in circumstances that mean it’s possible to donate their organs, so every potential donor is precious. Those waiting for a transplant depend on the families of these potential donors agreeing to donation going ahead. Families are more likely to agree to donate if they know it is what their loved one wanted.

Last updated: July 2014

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