Dad who needs transplant to save his life urges black and Asian people to be organ donors

A father in need of a lifesaving kidney transplant is urging more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) to tackle stereotypes and become organ donors. Father-of-two, Ashley Asomani, 39, also known as DJ Ace, who appears on BBC Radio 1Xtra, says more needs to be done to tackle stereotypes within ethnic minority communities.

According to a BAME organ donor survey this year, 51% of people unwilling to donate said they believed it conflicted with their religion, while 19% said it was because they felt it conflicted with their culture. DJ Ace says that the lack of donors has meant he has had to wait longer for a transplant after being diagnosed with kidney failure in May 2018. According to NHS Blood and Transplant, despite organ donations from BAME communities at a record high, there is still a chronic shortage.

Statistics this year show that 32% of those awaiting a transplant were from BAME backgrounds, even though just 13% of the general population is BAME. Just 8% of people who donated organs after death were from these communities last year. Ashley de la Mode, 39, says she has been waiting for years for a suitable kidney DJ Ace told ‘It was confirmed that I had kidney failure in May 2018. ‘I never thought I’d be waiting this long.’ After being diagnosed with diabetes in his early 20s, and now suffering from Kidney failure,

Ace has to visit hospital three times a week and spends four hours each time receiving dialysis treatment. He added: ‘Doctors have told me I will have to wait longer. ‘I think it’s definitely cultural, when I was 17 and filling in my application for a driver’s licence, there was something on there about becoming an organ donor. ‘I asked my mum if I could become an organ donor, she said “we don’t do that”. That type of thinking has clearly come from somewhere’.

Millie Banerjee, Chair of NHS Blood and Transplant's Board, has had a long and varied career in both the private and public sectors. She has extensive experience in corporate governance, having held a number of non-executive appointments including non-executive director of the Cabinet Office.
Millie Banerjee, Chair of NHS Blood and Transplant’s Board, says a more ‘personalised approach is needed’ to tackle stereotypes in BAME communities

Ace says that there needs to be more education to tackle cultural taboos around organ donation, especially those that have been passed on to second and third generations.

He added: ‘It may be seen as a big sacrifice, but nothing is as big as losing people waiting for a transplant’. Ashley de la Mode, 39, was also diagnosed with kidney failure when she was 23 and pregnant. At the time, Ashley was told she had 23% kidney function, which is now at just 5%.

She says that the lack of BAME organ donors is down to religious and cultural reasons, with many people ‘not understanding the process of organ donation and what it is’. Chair of NHS Blood and Transplant, Millie Banerjee, says there needs to be a lot of work to tackle the misconceptions that exist within BAME communities around organ donation.

DJ Ace, who appears on BBC Radio 1Xtra

‘Barriers’ like people believing their religion prohibits them from donating, or believing that being on the register means your organs will be taken immediately, mean people from ethnic minority groups aren’t coming forward. DJ Ace says the lack of organ donors from BAME communities has directly impacted his wait.

Ms Banerjee told ‘We need to ask why have these taboos persisted among the second and third generation, among younger people from these communities, we haven’t found a way to reach out to them’. She also stated that there were different cultural barriers within different groups, and that the approach to tackling the misconceptions on organ donation therefore had to be more personalised.

It is more important than ever before that a real effort is made to improve rates of organ donation among BAME communities, especially in light of a change in law coming in from Spring 2020, she said. All adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die, unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.

Ms Banerjee said: ‘We need to do more to help explain the process of organ donation. ‘It’s the vulnerable communities themselves that are being harmed by these misconceptions.’ To find out more about how you can become a donor and upcoming changes in the law on organ donation click here.

Written By: Baset Mahmood

First published 26.12.19:

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