Scotland

Plea for ethnic minorities to sign up as organ donors

Donor card Image copyright Science Photo Library

A plea has been made to give others "a second chance at life" by registering to become an organ donor.

Ministers are urging people, especially those from ethnic minorities, to sign up as a donor as their new year's resolution for 2016.

About 25% of people on the UK transplant waiting list are from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

But only 5% of donors are from these communities, making it harder to find suitable organ for transplant.

A transplant is much more likely to be successful if the donor and recipient have the same ethnic origin.

The shortage of suitable organs means people from minority ethnic communities wait, on average, twice as long as the general population for organ transplants.

Muhammad Azam, 43, waited two months on the organ donor register before his life-saving liver transplant in December 2014.

The father-of-two, from Edinburgh, was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2006 and in 2012 he was told his chance of survival relied on a liver transplant.

'Generous'

He said: "I was constantly exhausted and was even unable to walk at times because I felt so weak. It was a miserable existence."

Since his transplant, Mr Azam has been able to return to work and his life has completely transformed.

He said: "After the operation I just felt instantly better than I had in months.

"Since then my recovery has been fantastic. Two days after the transplant I was able to walk around again and within nine days I was allowed to go home to recuperate.

"I think there can be misconceptions surrounding organ donation and religion, but actually all major religions in the UK support it in principle.

"I'd encourage anyone who hasn't done so already to join the NHS organ donor register. It's the most generous thing anyone could ever do for another person.

"It really is the greatest gift of all."

A three-year programme delivered by the Scottish government and Kidney Research UK has recruited "peer educators" from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities who act as champions for organ donations within their communities.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: "It is a reality that we need more donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities if we are to be able to help people like Muhammad get a new lease of life."

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