A webinar was held on 21 February to discuss challenges for transplant patients from an ethnic minority background, as well as those who deliver the service. It was arranged by the NBTA with the support of NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and chaired by Lord Gadhia.
During the seminar, Mr. Chris Callaghan (Associate Medical Director at NHSBT) and Dr. David Makanjuola (Consultant Nephrologist, St Helier Hospital), discussed aspects of the utilisation of organ transplants, including current inequities within transplantation. These include the challenges for patients from ethnic minority backgrounds in getting on to the national kidney transplant waiting list and the increased average time that patients from ethnic minority backgrounds wait to get a kidney transplant, compared to white patients.
The focus was on exploring strategies to increase organ transplantation from an ethnic minority perspective and to complement the ongoing work to increase support for organ donation. It is important that transplant services keep pace with the increase in organ donation in the UK over the last ten years and that inequalities in the provision are addressed.
Lord Jitesh Gadhia, NBTA Ambassador, said:
As a Parliamentarian I have taken a keen interest in organ donation because of its disproportionate impact on ethnic minority communities. The introduction of an opt-out system last year brings new hope to those waiting for an organ transplant. In addition, we need to improve organ utilisation by harnessing new technologies and innovation so that the UK can live up to the ambition of being a world leader in organ donation and transplantation.
Two of the main themes which were discussed during the session included the importance of providing information to patients which is culturally appropriate and the ongoing need to use patient-friendly language.
Kirit Modi, Hon President of NBTA said:
“We welcome the focus on organ transplantation alongside organ donation. As we see public awareness and support for organ donation steadily increasing, the recovery plan from COVID provides an important opportunity to address ongoing inequalities in organ transplantation and organ utilisation variations among transplant centres. NBTA is looking forward to working with NHSBT and others in addressing these.”
The webinar also discussed ways to increase the number of staff from ethnic minority background employed by NHS Blood and Transplant. NHS Blood and Transplant outlined plans to recruit more specialist nurses of organ donation from an ethnic minority background.
Orin Lewis OBE, Chair of NBTA said:
“The challenge to escalate the numbers of registered & consenting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic organ donors has been well established and documented in the public domain. Now the same effort needs to be overseen in ensuring that there is maximum accessibility for diverse background patients in receiving donated organs via transplantation processes.
This successful and constructive NBTA webinar (supported by NHSBT) highlighted some of the barriers such as the infrastructure gaps in capturing ethnic data, the challenges in confounding ethnic mistrust, language and socio-economic status, etc. and the opportunities in expounding the highly emotive and compelling ethnic donor/recipient stories in the public domain via news and social media in creating public confidence in transplantation”.
The outcome of the webinar will be sent by NBTA to the Organ Utilisation Group, set up by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to inform their recommendations to Ministers on how to address inequities in access and improve the transplant service, so that as many lives as possible can be saved through the gift of organ donation.
Written by: Suzanne Browne