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Local imams learn of need for organ donation in BAME community


300 adults from a BAME background in east London are waiting for a kidney transplant

Someone from a BAME background with wait twice as long as a white person for an organ donation

Imams and local scholars came together on Tuesday 19 February at the East London Mosque to hear from experts about the great need for organ donation amongst Asian communities.

Hosted in partnership with Kidney Research UK, the event was an opportunity to generate discussion, share thoughts, beliefs and opinions on the topic and contribute towards finding a solution, particularly aimed at the Asian Muslim community.

The event heard from Professor Magdi Yaqoob, an expert in kidney treatment; Dr Ismail Mohamed, a Consultant Transplant Surgeon at the Royal London Hospital and Dr Mansur Ali, a lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cardiff University on why there is such a massive need for donors. Attendees also heard directly from a patient waiting for a transplant.

There are approximately 18,000 people with diabetes in Tower Hamlets. An Asian person with diabetes is 10 times more likely to have kidney failure compared with a white person with diabetes.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “We are working in partnership with Kidney Research UK and Barts Health NHS Trust to help raise awareness of the great need for BAME donors.

“People may not realise that poorly managed diabetes can often lead to kidney failure so we are urging people to start these conversations with their families today.”

The lack of donors amongst the BAME (Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic) community is leading to an unnecessary loss of lives. Currently a BAME patient may wait 8-12 months longer for a kidney transplant than a white patient because of the lack of suitable donors. This puts them at increased risk of dying or becoming too unwell for intervention before receiving a transplant.

Although many black and Asian patients are able to receive a transplant from a white donor, a tissue-type match is best as they have a lower likelihood of being rejected.

A peer education programme has been launched in Tower Hamlets to increase awareness of the risks of kidney disease, help residents learn how to manage diabetes and engage families about becoming donors.

The Peer Educator Model is based upon the Hiba Project that Kidney Research UK ran in Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh that resulted in 3,000 people singing up to the NHS Organ Donation Register.2

Dr Mansur Ali said: “The number of Muslim organ donors is much lower than the overall UK average. I hope that my work will provide some clarity around this complex subject and empower families affected by these issues to make informed, considered decisions.”