Helping Hindu & Black communities understand living kidney donation

A team (shown in the picture above: L-R: Kirit, Paris, Rekha and David) at the Royal Free Hospital is aiming to increase the awareness of living kidney donation among some ethnic minority communities, as part of a drive to reduce health inequalities for those affected by renal failure.

People from the Hindu, Jain, and Black communities make up almost 20% of patients at the Royal Free Hospital receiving treatment for kidney failure, including dialysis – but they often have to wait longer than white patients for a transplant.

Due to complex reasons, including religious and cultural barriers, organ donations happen less frequently within ethnic minority groups. Research also shows that in 2020/21, the number of living organ donors from minority ethnic background decreased by 61%. Currently, a third of people waiting for a kidney transplant in the UK are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

Funded by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), the one-year project aims to tackle this problem by supporting patients during their routine clinical appointments, offering information about how living kidney donations work, supporting patients to find a living donor, and giving them access to culturally specific resources.

The project is being delivered by organ donation facilitator, Rekha Parekh, and scrub nurse, Paris Turner. Rekha said she is looking forward to working closely with patients and supporting them through this process.

She explained: “Transplantation and organ donation is a subject close to my heart and I have dedicated a lot of time to this during my 37 years at the Trust. I hope to help people have honest and open conversations so they understand all of the options and can make the right decision for them.”

Fiona Sharples, co-chair of the project and lead renal transplant nurse at the Royal Free London, continued: “By raising awareness of organ donations, more people can receive the life-changing gift of a transplant.”

The initiative builds on the work of Kirit Modi, chair of the Jain and Hindu Organ Donation Steering Group (JHOD), and David Myers, chair of the Trust’s Organ Donation Committee. Both Kirit and David have been awarded recognition for their services to fellow renal patients, Kirit with an MBE and David a BEM.

Kirit said: “As a kidney transplant recipient at the Royal Free Hospital, I am most grateful for the amazing care I continue to receive from staff in the renal department. However, we need to address wider health inequalities.

“This project provides one-to-one support to patients at a time when they are considering key options in their treatment. I am hopeful that it will increase living kidney donations at the hospital and transform the lives of patients.”

David is also a kidney transplant recipient and has dedicated over two decades to giving advice and support to kidney patients and their families about organ donations. He chairs the Royal Free London’s Organ Donation Committee and is President of the Royal Free Hospital’s Kidney Patients Association.

David said: “For many years, I have helped to run living organ donation projects under the Royal Free London banner with Kirit. A kidney donated by a living donor can offer the best long-term outcome for the recipient and we want to raise awareness of this option.”

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