Crucial Lancashire-wide projects have won funding to further their campaigns to promote vital organ donation among black and Asian communities, with the Health Minister encouraging people to commit to the "priceless gift of organ donation".
Among the 25 projects to share a £140,000 fund from the Community Investment Scheme - a NHS Blood and Transplant initiative supported by the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA) - the campaigns are out to break down myths and barriers to increase support for organ donation among black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities.
East Lancashire Community Action Project's 'Be a Life Saver' campaign and Lancashire BME Network's 'It Could Be You' campaign will both be working in the Burnley, Pendle, and Ribble Valley areas, aiming to remedy the urgent shortage of organs for transplant for people from all backgrounds and particularly for people from BAME backgrounds.
“The projects receiving funding will spread the message about the priceless gift of organ donation up and down the country - at a community level, where it has the strongest impact," said Health Minister, Jackie Doyle-Price. “If you are black or Asian, you will wait on average half a year longer for a matching donor than if you are white.
"Those six months could be a matter of life or death," she added. "We must address this by empowering communities to own the conversation around organ donation. Giving the gift of an organ is a deeply personal decision and I hope that the projects funded through this scheme will help people to make an informed choice.”
The ‘Be a Life Saver’ project aims to encourage discussion about organ donation among members of the local Asian community through social awareness, while the 'It Could Be You' programme (carried out in collaboration with Lancashire and South Cumbria Kidney Patients Association) will involve recruiting community organ donor champions from across the county who will deliver workshops within their own community groups.
BAME patients are over-represented on the waiting list for organs and - as a result of being more susceptible to illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension - are already more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the population, with the best match likely to come from a donor from the same ethnic background.
Anthony Clarkson, Interim Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Hearing a positive organ donation message from a trusted, community-led or local organisation will, we hope, encourage more people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to decide that they want to be a lifesaving organ donor and to share that decision with their families.”