Funding boost for organ donation

Birmingham projects win funding to help promote organ donation among black and Asian communities.

Five projects in the Birmingham area have successfully bid for funding to help address the urgent need for black, Asian and minority ethnic organ donors.

They are among 25 projects sharing a £140,000 Community Investment Scheme funding pot to encourage more people from these backgrounds to become lifesaving organ donors.

The scheme is part of a Government campaign led by NHS Blood and Transplant, with support from the National BAME Transplant Alliance, to break down myths and barriers and increase support for organ donation among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

The organisations that will deliver projects in the Birmingham area are RAFFA, Sewa Day, Global Kidney Foundation, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and Centre for the Study of Islam.

Health Minister, Jackie Doyle-Price, said: “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.

“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. 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 project led by RAFFA, ‘God loves a donor’, aims to reach black and Asian Christians in the Birmingham area. It will encourage places of worship to register as organ donation campaigners and equip voluntary nurses with information to lead awareness talks in spiritual settings.

The Sewa Day project will engage the city’s Hindu and Sikh communities through awareness sessions and partnership work with other faith organisations. BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha will deliver outreach activity in the local Hindu community and raise awareness through social media, emails and leaflets. The project by the Centre for the Study of Islam will involve focus groups and workshops focused on the Muslim community in Birmingham, as well as London and Cardiff.

The ‘Give Hope, Give Life’ project by Global Kidney Foundation focuses on the Hindu community. Its nurses will discuss organ donation during free health check-ups at churches, universities and other venues. Other activities include workshops at community events.

Ella Vine of the Global Kidney Foundation said: “We are pleased to contribute to this fantastic initiative that will save many lives. Not many people are aware that organ transplant depends on tissue match; that is why it is crucial that people from all ethnic groups join the NHS Organ Donor Register, so that enough organs are there for people from all diverse ethnic groups.

“We will be running innovative pilot projects in Birmingham and London where we will deliver free health checks for anyone who wants it and promote organ donation at the same time.”

The Community Investment Scheme was open to any faith or community-based organisation working within black, Asian and minority communities in England and Wales.

Organisations were invited to bid for funding by outlining how they could build support for organ donation, and all applications were reviewed by an independent judging panel.

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.”

The organisations leading the projects will evaluate their work after the projects have finished in the summer. This insight will help understanding around the different approaches that can be taken to break down barriers towards organ donation.