South Asians urged to become organ and stem cell donors in Parliament

Seema Malhotra MP and healthcare workers have urged South Asians to sign up to become organ and stem cell donors.

The call came during an awards ceremony hosted by Seema Malhotra MP in the House of Commons during Organ Donation Week. The event recognised the work of volunteers for Upahaar, a charity dedicated to improving awareness of organ donation among South Asian communities, and was attended by representatives from Anthony Nolan and DKMS and supported by NHS Blood and Transplant.
Every day someone in the UK dies waiting for a transplant, due to a shortage of people donating. At present, there are around 7,000 people waiting for a transplant. However, as only 1,400 people die in circumstances where organ donation is possible, every donation is precious and can make such a difference.

For patients who need a blood, stem cell or organ transplant, the best match will often come from a donor from the same ethnic background.

This can make it more difficult to find matches for ethnic minority patients, as ethnic minority communities have low levels of people opting in to be organ donors.

Organ donation will only go ahead with the support of the family. This means it is just as important as ever to add your name and decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register, because families are more likely to support the decision of someone who has registered.

Since being set up in 2017, Upahaar has signed up over 7000 donors, 96% of whom are from ethnic minority communities.

Seema Malhotra said: “Increasing the number of people on the international stem cell and organ register is vital.”

“If you are white, you have a 72% chance of getting a match, but if you are an ethnic minority, that drops to a 37% chance.”

“Getting on the register is a simple process that only takes a swab.”

Dr Zainul Aabideen, a specialist in paediatric transplantation who spoke at the event, said:

“I can’t express the frustration we feel when we don’t have the donors. I can only support the children.”

“I can’t express the voice of parents and the joy when children are saved from Leukaemia or other diseases.”

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