Seven community groups and organisations working in Yorkshire have received a share of £685,000 in funding as part of the Government’s commitment to continue to tackle health inequalities and promote organ, blood, and stem cell donation among Black and Asian communities.
The Community Grants Programme, previously known as the Community Investment Scheme, is managed by NHS Blood and Transplant and helps to fund community, faith, or belief organisations to deliver projects that encourage more Black and Asian people to become donors.
More donors are urgently needed because the shortage of donors from Black and Asian communities means patients from these communities can have worse outcomes. People from the same ethnic background are more likely to be a match.
NHSBT can only provide the best matched blood for people with sickle cell around half the time. Sickle cell is the fastest-growing genetic condition in the UK. It is more prevalent in people from Black African or Black Caribbean backgrounds. The NHS needs a record 250 blood donations a day to treat people with sickle cell.
Black and Asian people wait longer for organ transplants. People from Black, Asian, Mixed or Other minority ethnic backgrounds make up one-third of all people on the transplant waiting list, due to the difficulties of finding a match.
White patients have about 80-90% chance of finding a stem cell match from a stranger. However, Black, Asian and mixed race people can only find a stem cell match from a stranger around 30-40% of the time.
The Community Grants Programme scheme has shown that enabling grassroots organisations to champion organ, blood and stem cell donation in a culturally relevant way increases awareness and engagement, helping move towards greater health equality and a more diverse donor base.
A total of £685,000 has been distributed among community-based projects across England and Wales. Anthony Nolan is again supporting the programme by providing 40% of the contribution towards projects working on stem cell donation.
Funds that were available for each area were around:
Blood donation projects – £242,000
Living kidney donation projects – £113,000
Deceased organ donation projects – £128,000
Stem cell donation projects – £102,000
Combined donation projects (covering more than one type of donation) – £100,000
The list of organisations receiving funding to run projects in Yorkshire include:
British Islamic Association
Halal Dinner Club (part of Leaf Coaching CIC)
ILM-Ornate Lane Ltd (Raising Explorers)
Jain and Hindu Organ Donation Alliance (JHOD)
We Are Donors
Muslim Doctors Association
One organisation receiving funding is QED Foundation, based in Bradford, which supports ethnic minorities to find jobs and progress in their careers, delivering education, training and employment services. It also supports government and public sector organisations, businesses and charities across the UK to tackle inequality.
Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, founder and chief executive of the QED Foundation, says: “I would strongly encourage people from South Asian communities to seriously think about organ donation. The facts are clear: there aren’t enough ethnic minorities on the register of donors yet the number from these communities needing organs is disproportionate.
“Think how you would feel if the life of your loved one can be saved by say a kidney donation. As a Muslim, I believe what Islam says that saving one life is like saving the whole of humanity.”
Shagufta Shad, Beneficiaries Support Officer, QED Foundation, says: “I know from personal experience the value and importance of people donating their organs. My aunty had a kidney transplant in 1995. She was able to live a good quality of life for a further 20 years. Without this, she would not have survived. We, as a family are forever grateful to the person who gave their kidney to my aunty. We don’t know who it was but we will not forget them.
“Research has shown, when a family is not made aware of a person’s wishes before they die, the consent rate for organ donation falls drastically. It is more important now than ever to have these discussions and make a real difference in people’s lives, such as my Aunty.”
Altaf Kazi, Assistant Director, Partnerships and Community Engagement at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We have seen first-hand the abilities of trusted individuals and community groups to prompt conversation, tackle misinformation, educate, and offer reassurance around donation.
“Often a person’s best donor match will share their ethnicity, but too many donation opportunities are missed because families haven’t discussed organ donation and Black and Asian people are seriously under-represented when it comes to donating blood and stem cells.
“We are really excited to work with these grassroots champions to address inequalities and help save more lives.”
Health Minister Neil O’Brien said: “It is important everyone has the best chance of receiving a potentially life-saving blood, organ or stem cell donation, regardless of their ethnic background and these organisations are helping to make a real difference.
“We’re investing to encourage and increase education about donation among black and Asian communities.
“Thank you to all these grassroots organisations for bringing communities together to transform the lives of thousands of people.”
Henny Braund MBE, Chief Executive at Anthony Nolan, said: “At Anthony Nolan, we’re proud to work with our partners to fund the Community Grants Programme. There are long-standing disparities in access to lifesaving stem cell transplants, with people from a minority ethnic background still much less likely to find a match from an unrelated donor.
“These vital projects will boost the number of stem cell donors from minority ethnic backgrounds on the UK stem cell register. In turn, they will help close the gap in access to lifesaving treatment between patients from minority ethnic backgrounds and those of White ethnicity.”