Grateful family call for more BME organ donors

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Dela, Tayo, and Nikolaos outside 3

The family of a man whose life was saved by a kidney transplant at Guy’s Hospital are campaigning for more people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds to sign up as organ donors.

Their timely plea comes as Transplant Week starts on Monday 7 September. Tayo Idowu, 58 and from Dulwich in south London, had a transplant in 2014 after his kidneys failed. The operation was a success, reversing the decline in Tayo’s health and ending his reliance on daily dialysis treatment.

A serious shortage of organ donors from BME communities means it can take far longer for suitable organs to be found for patients from BME backgrounds. Sadly, these delays mean that some patients die from organ failure before a transplant can take place.

Tayo and his family are sharing his story so that they can help others understand the importance of organ donation.

Tayo says: “The kidney transplant was truly life changing for me. After my kidneys failed I faced a very bleak future, but the transplant has given me back my health. I’m hugely grateful and I know I’m really lucky.”

Following the transplant Tayo and his sister Dela set up the ‘Gift Of Living Donation’ organisation, which raises awareness of organ donation in BME communities.

Dela Idowu says: “The transplant gave Tayo a new lease of life and inspired us as a family to share our experience with others. We want to help promote organ donation and particularly to highlight the need for more donors from ethnic minority communities.

“We know that many people in these communities simply lack information about organ donation and how it can save lives. There’s an urgent need for more donors from all backgrounds but particularly from ethnic minorities. We’re determined to raise awareness and we believe that sharing our story helps other people understand why organ donation is so crucial.”

Gift Of Living Donation organises information events and produces resources aimed at combating myths and promoting organ donation to BME communities. The organisation also fundraises to improve the quality of life for dialysis patients in Nigeria.

Tayo’s operation was performed by Mr Nikolaos Karydis, transplant surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Karydis says: “It’s fantastic that the transplant has been such a success for Tayo and that his family have gone on to launch this campaign.

“Three people die each day in the UK while waiting for a transplant. For those from ethnic minorities the situation can be even worse because there aren’t enough people from similar backgrounds on the organ donor register.

“Organs from the same ethnic group are more likely to be a suitable match for transplantation. This is why Gift Of Living Donation’s work is so important and why we’re so keen to get more people from BME backgrounds on the organ donor register.”


Last updated: March 2022

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