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Survey reveals shift in attitudes towards organ donation among black and Asian communities

New funding available for projects to break down barriers to donation in black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic communities

16 July 2019

Attitudes towards organ donation among black and Asian communities are becoming more positive after new research* revealed more people may consider becoming a lifesaving donor.

Last year, more than a third of people said they did not want to donate when surveyed ahead of the launch of a Government campaign by NHS Blood and Transplant to address an urgent shortage of donors from these backgrounds.

However, new research reveals this figure has almost halved (1) over the last year while the proportion of people unsure whether they want to be a donor has grown (2), indicating a shift in attitudes from a negative to a neutral position.

And the number of black and Asian people who would definitely donate some or all organs after their death has risen from 11 to 15 percent.

The latest findings also indicate that people from these communities feel much better informed about organ donation compared with a year ago.

Almost double the number (3) were aware that organs matched by ethnicity had the best chance of success. And three times as many people (4) knew that those from black and Asian backgrounds are more likely to need an organ transplant than white people.

The survey results have been released to coincide with a fresh call for community and faith or belief-based organisations to join the campaign to address the urgent shortage of black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic donors.

NHS Blood and Transplant is inviting applications for funding for projects that can help break down myths and barriers and increase support for organ donation at a community level.

Funded by the Department for Health and Social Care and Welsh Government, the community investment scheme is open to any faith or community-based organisation working within black, Asian, mixed race or minority ethnic communities in England and Wales.

Minister for Inequalities Jackie Doyle Price said: “I am delighted that more black and Asian people are willing to consider the life-saving gift of organ donation than ever before. This is great progress but we know there's still a critical shortage of donors from black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic backgrounds, so I am pleased that this new funding will help break down myths and barriers to increase support for organ donation in these communities.”

This is the second round of the scheme. Under the first round in 2018/19 funding was awarded to 25 projects led by organisations representing Jain, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Swahili, black and Asian Christians, black African and Caribbean and multi-faith groups.

The projects reached people across the Midlands and the North West of England as well as in London, Cardiff, Bristol, Leeds and Newcastle. Activity included information workshops, an ambassador programme, a mobile app and a social media campaign.

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The projects funded under round one of this scheme have initiated and informed conversations across a spectrum of faiths and communities about the precious gift of organ donation.

“We are delighted to be able to support a second round of this fantastic community-led work, and hopefully encourage more people from black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic backgrounds to decide that they want to be a lifesaving organ donor and share that decision with their families.

“Although the law in England is changing, it will still be the generosity of individual donors and their families who decide at the most difficult time to support organ donation.”

An estimated £200,000 will be available for projects in England in this round of the scheme. £20,000 will be available for projects in Wales. Organisations operating at a local level in both England and Wales will be able to put in separate applications or combined applications to cover both areas.

There will be two levels of funding available. Applicants can apply for funding for projects up to £2,499 or for projects over the value of £2,500. The ceiling for applications is £10,000. All applications will be reviewed by an independent judging panel which will also oversee the projects as a steering group.

Organisations will be able to select from three dates for completion of their project: end June 2020, end October 2020 and end March 2021.

To support bidders with their applications, NHS Blood and Transplant will be holding a free workshop:

  • Date: 7th August 2019
  • Location: Holiday Inn Bloomsbury, Coram Street, London, WC1N 1HT.
  • To reserve a place, please email community.funding@nhsbt.nhs.uk

It is not essential to attend the workshop to be able to put in an application for funding.

The closing date for applications is September 1.

Organisations delivering projects in England will have an important role to play in helping people understand that the law is changing.

From spring 2020, the consent system in England will move to ‘opt out’. Just like the current system, people will still be able to decide whether or not they want to donate their organs when they die, and families will always be approached about whether their relative would have wanted to be an organ donor and belief and cultural considerations will be discussed with families. All adults in England ** will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups***.

The community investment scheme is part of a Government campaign led by NHS Blood and Transplant with support from the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA) to address the urgent need for black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic donors.

Story note:
While there is an urgent shortage of organs for transplant for people from all backgrounds the problem is particularly acute for black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic patients.

These patients are over-represented on the waiting list. They are more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the population as they are more susceptible to illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, which could result in organ failure.

Although many black, Asian and minority ethnic patients can receive a transplant from a white donor, for many the best match will come from a donor with the same ethnic background.

Black, Asian and ethnic minority families are less likely to discuss organ donation and are much more likely to decline to donate organs for lifesaving transplants.

Press release notes:
* A face-to-face survey to measure attitudes towards organ donation was carried out by Agroni Research among 1,063 adults aged 18+ from black and Asian backgrounds during March 2019. The sample was balanced by age, gender and broad geographic region. The initial benchmark survey was carried out by Agroni Research in May 2018 among 1,034 adults in line with the above criteria.

** The new ‘opt out’ legislation planned for England has been given Royal Assent and will come into force in spring 2020. Wales already operates an opt out system for organ donation. Jersey’s new law was enacted last year and their system for consent will change this summer. Scotland, the Isle of Man and Guernsey are all working to change their legislation

*** Those excluded will be people under 18, people who lack the capacity to understand the change and people who have lived in England for less than 12 months before their death or who are not living here voluntarily

Key stats:
1) In March 2019 20 percent of respondents said they definitely would not donate their organs compared with 37 percent in May 2018.
2) In March 2019 43 percent of respondents stated that they didn’t know if they would donate their organs compared with 30 percent in May 2018.
3) In March 2019 39 percent of respondents correctly answered that you get a better a match with a donor of your own ethnicity compared with 22 percent in May 2018.
4) In March 2019 35 percent of respondents stated that black and Asian people are proportionally more likely to need an organ compared with 11 percent in May 2018.
Ends
• For additional information please contact Rachel Newton in the NHS Blood and Transplant press office on 01923 367600 or email pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk
• For urgent out of hours enquiries please call 0117 969 2444

Notes to Editors
NHS Blood and Transplant

NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We provide the blood donation service for England and the organ donation service for the UK. We also provide donated tissues, stem cells and cord blood. We are an essential part of the NHS, saving and improving lives through public donation.

Organ donation

  • It is quick and easy to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Call 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk
  • Families are always involved in organ donation discussions. You can make things easier for your family by telling them you want to donate.
  • Every day across the UK around three people who could have benefited from a transplant die because there aren’t enough organ donors.
  • Anyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register, age and medical conditions are not necessarily a barrier to donation.
  • One donor can save or transform up to nine lives through organ donation and save and transforms even more by donating tissue.