‘Urgent’ attention is needed to axe black patients wait time for organ transplants

A new report from the NHS shows black people have to wait up to six months longer than the general public to receive an organ transplant.

The health data displays the reason behind this, is fewer black people are likely to agree to an organ donation and the best match for a transplant comes from someone of the same ethnicity.

However, according to the report – which was released today, only 2% of donors in 2021/22 were black. Against this backdrop, the NHS claims there is an ‘urgent need’ for more people from ethnic minorities to donate.

Undergoing alternations in 2020, the law surrounding organ donation changed to an ‘opt-out’ approach, which stated that unless an individual decided to not donate their organs after death, they would immediately be put into the scheme.

However, despite the law changing, families of people who have died are still able to make their organ donation decision for them, and the NHS report found black families who do not consent claim it is because they aren’t sure it is what their loved one would have wanted.

According to government research that was taken from the 2021 Census regarding the UK’s different ethnic groups, 82% of people in England and Wales are white, and 18% belong to black, Asian, mixed, or other ethnic groups.

The NHS Blood and Transplant Report, displays that whilst overall wait times for organ transplants for all ethnicities in the UK, black people wait on average 735 days for a kidney, whereas the waiting time for white people is 488 days and 650 for Asian citizens.

Currently, kidney transplants are facing the longest wait times as the procedure is more complex – transplants need to be matched by blood and tissue type, whereas other organs only need a blood type match.

Data that was published by Statista, outlines in March 2022 the number of patients waiting for a kidney transplant was 4,744, whereas the number of people waiting to receive a new heart or liver decreased into the three-figure ballpark.

Winnie Andango, who worked on the NHS report and is the lead nurse for equality with organ donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: ‘Black people wait longer because there’s less people coming forward to give their organs from their ethnic group.

‘During Covid, so many patients were suspended but those have been added back onto the list, and that means if we has less organs for this ethnic minority group we have even less right now.’

In December 2022, it was revealed that 7,000 people in the UK were spending the holidays waiting for an organ transplant, with Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients often having to wait significantly longer for a successful match.


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