Pic above: Eric Douglin, who received a kidney from his wife Mandi 7 years ago – attending the wedding of one of their son’s.

New figures have shown more than 50,000 people are now alive thanks to organ donation. However, with only a small increase in the proportion of BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) registrants added to the Organ Donor Register (ODR) over the past five years; 5.0% in 2012/13 and 6.8% 2016/17 – Caribbean and African ethnicities continue to be poorly represented on the ODR relative to the current UK population.

Data from NHS Blood and Transplant for the UK shows the BAME groups represent 11% of the UK population. Asians represent 5.1% of the UK population while 2.5% of the population are Black and 3.2% are from other minority ethnic groups.

In contrast, at the end of the 2016/17 financial year, 34% of the total number of patients on the waiting list for a kidney transplant were BAME, reflecting a demand for kidney transplantation in excess of that for White patients. This is believed to be attributable to a higher burden of diabetes and kidney disease associated with the BAME communities. For other organs the demand is in line with that for the White population; however the proportion of BAME patients is 16% on the liver transplant list and only 7% of liver donors are of BAME ethnicity in 2016/17.

Despite the lifesaving work carried out by organisations like ACLT, which ultimately help towards increasing the overall numbers of African and Caribbean individuals on the ODR in the UK, there continues to be a great need for individuals of BAME heritage to step forward and join the register. On reading the full report, ACLT can see it clearly demonstrates a gap between the need for transplantation and the number of transplants taking place for BAME patients. This explains the longer waiting time to kidney transplant for BAME patients (approx. 2½ years, compared with 2 years for White patients). This disadvantage for BAME patients arises partly from the need to match kidney donors and recipients according to blood and tissue types.

To read the supplementary report on Organ Donation and Transplantation Data for BAME communities, please click here