Funding boost to tackle health inequalities and promote living kidney donation amongst Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities

Seven projects have been successful in receiving a share of £100,000 funding as part of the Government’s commitment to tackle health inequalities and promote living kidney donation amongst Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

The Living Kidney Transplant Scheme has been launched as part of NHS Blood and Transplant’s ongoing commitment to address the shortage of organs, particularly kidneys, for those from all Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds who are awaiting a transplant, whilst also addressing health inequalities in the wider population.

The Living Kidney Transplant Scheme is an extension of the Community Investment Scheme, which has been run by NHS Blood and Transplant over the last four years. The scheme has shown that enabling grass roots organisations to champion organ donation in a culturally relevant way increases awareness and engagement, helping to move towards greater health equity for all.

For many patients in need of a transplant the best match will come from a donor of the same ethnic background. In the UK there are currently 5,903 people waiting for an organ transplant. Of these there are 4,676 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant and 1,554 of those waiting are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients often have to wait significantly longer for a successful match than white patients due to a shortage of suitably matched donors. Kidney donors and recipients are matched by blood group and tissue type, which means people from the same ethnic background are more likely to have matching blood groups and tissue types.

The Living Kidney Transplant Scheme aims to address the barriers faced within these communities and provide more people with information around living kidney donation, with the aim to save more lives.

Living kidney donors can either be directed (where the donor donates to a named recipient or someone they know) or non-directed (where a donor donates anonymously to any stranger who needs it). Innovative schemes, such as the UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme, enables one non-directed altruistic donor to start a chain of transplants, making even more transplants possible.

Living kidney donation has many advantages, often taking away the need for life-restricting and intrusive dialysis treatment and it provides patients with better long-term health outcomes and life expectancy.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“Choosing to donate a kidney is an incredibly personal decision, but it is vital all communities talk openly about the importance of this life-saving choice.

“With over 1,500 people from ethnic minority backgrounds on the waiting list, we need more people from these communities to consider becoming living organ donors.

“This funding will help community organisations to start more conversations and save more lives”.

One of the seven projects that have been selected to increase awareness of living donation is Nishkam Healthcare Trust. The project hopes to hold three events to raise awareness of living donation, create and distribute digital and printed materials around donation and finally create an accompanying social media campaign.

Dr Manvir Kaur Hayer, Chairperson of Nishkam Healthcare Trust, said:

“Nishkam Healthcare Trust is committed to the disease prevention and patient empowerment agenda. In this respect, we are acutely aware of the high prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease in our local Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. The opportunity to promote living donation, which has demonstratively better health outcomes, is strongly aligned with our organisational mission. We are excited about this project, where we will aim to drive change by increasing awareness about living kidney donation, what this involves, addressing myths, and ultimately we hope this will translate to increased willing towards organ donation, particularly in our communities where there is a shortage of donors.”

Another organisation that has received funding as part of the Living Kidney Transplant Scheme is the Jain and Hindu Organ Donation Steering Group (JHOD), in collaboration with the Royal Free Hospital. The project is hoping to raise awareness by offering one to one support to over 140 Hindu, Jain and Black patients who are considering options of transplantation or dialysis at the Royal Free Hospital. This support will be about living kidney donation and will be provided by outreach workers who understand the barriers faced by these patients. 

Kirit Modi, Chair of the Jain and Hindu Organ Donation Steering Group, said:

“We are delighted that this innovative joint project led by the Royal Free Hospital and the Jain and Hindu Organ Donation Steering Group (JHOD) has been successful in getting support from NHS Blood and Transplant. ​There are many barriers and concerns from communities about living donation, one of our aims is to help ​demystify these.”

Fiona Sharples, Lead Nurse for Renal Transplant at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust continues:

“We feel that it is important to work with our community and hope that this approach will lead to finding individuals who will volunteer to get assessed as potential living kidney donors for some of the patients. There is a desperate need for more living kidney donors from these communities, and the pandemic has highlighted the importance of finding more living kidney donors.”

Lisa Burnapp, Associate Director for Living Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said:

“Following the success of the Community Investment Scheme and the previous Living Transplant Initiative, we are thrilled to be launching the Living Kidney Transplant Scheme to help us address the health inequalities faced by many people in Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

“We have seen first-hand the success of working with grassroot organisations that educate and engage their community as well as their peers. The seven projects that have been successful in receiving funding have great ideas and enthusiasm for living donation and we are really excited to see what they are able to achieve. We hope that this new funding will help raise awareness and encourage more people to consider living donation. Congratulations to all who have been selected.”

For more information about the Living Kidney Transplant Scheme please contact

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