Kidney donation – the problem

Average kidney transplant wait times

Kidney donation – the BAME problem

If you’re Black, you’ll end up waiting on average a year longer to receive a kidney transplant than if you are White. This is because of the lack of donors in the Black community, which is compounded by a higher need for kidney transplants.

Blood and tissue types differ across ethnic groups, so transplants are usually only possible between members of the same group. BAME groups represent about 11% of the UK population, so you might expect them to make up the same proportion of the kidney transplant waiting list. But the number is triple that: 34% of the total number of patients on the waiting list for a kidney transplant are BAME.

If that is the level of demand, what about the level of supply? In 2016-17, 28% of the UK’s kidney transplants were made to BAME recipients. The 6% will remain on the waiting list, hoping they get lucky as it grows longer and longer.


In the Black community

In the Black community specifically, the gap between supply and demand is even starker. In 2016-17, of all those in need of a kidney, just 5% ended up receiving one from a living donor: just 29 individuals, out of 600 in need. The vast majority of transplants that do take place are from deceased donors: only 17 people from the Black community came forward in 2016-17. And this is a number that has been falling rapidly: there were 49 in 2011.

Right now 551 people are living without knowing whether they have a future. If this situation continues that number will rise and rise – and the number of deaths will too.

But there is hope. Last year 74 transplants were made possible by the living kidney donation programme – the partnership with which we are working to spread awareness and help patients survive. From 86 non-directed altruistic living kidney donors in the UK, 122 patients benefitted from a living donor transplant.


How to help

If you’re interested in helping this situation, you can request information on donation with no strings attached by joining our Interested Register.