The UK’s Hidden Ethnic Minority Health Crisis

The UK is facing a health crisis which most of us are simply unaware of. GOLD (Gift of Living Donation) has been established to raise awareness of the fact that in the UK, less than 3% of registered organ donors are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups ( BAME).

organ_donor2This has devastating consequences for black and ethnic minority patients who now make up almost a third of the UK’s transplant waiting list, (in London, this proportion rises to two-thirds). This is because organ matches are far more likely if the ethnicity of the donor and recipient are close. People from BAME communities are at higher risk of particular illnesses which lead to organ failure, including diabetes, hypertension and certain forms of hepatitis.

Dela Idowu established GOLD following firsthand experience of being a potential living donor to her brother Tayo, after seeing him battle renal failure and suffering on dialysis and no suitable kidney donations materialised. Following her experiences, Dela became a member of a number of NHS and national statutory bodies with the aim of increasing awareness of the importance of genetically-diverse organ donors.

Her family’s experiences inspired her to write a book; More Than A Match, which documents the highs and lows of a living donor’s journey as well as a self-funded DVD; We Are Family, which together with the NHS hopes to raise awareness of living organ donation. Through these educational resources, GOLD aims to make more people aware of the urgent need for racially-diverse organ donors and to show people that registering to become an organ donor needn’t be something to fear. Her courage, dedication and tenacity have helped her brother Tayo during his years of illness and inspired him to make a full recovery following his recent kidney transplant operation in October 2014.

While NHS targets and hospital waiting times persistently and perpetually make the news, the lack of diversity among organ donors is a serious issue which is not yet in the Public’s collective conscious. Yet GOLD’s targets of tripling the number of registered organ donors and doubling the number of people coming forward as living organ donors from ethnic minority backgrounds over the next 12 months would not only significantly improve waiting times for life-saving operations but also save lives.

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