This article was first published in the Evening Standard.
A woman who saved her father by giving him one of her kidneys has called for more black Londoners to donate organs. Health chiefs are concerned at the “huge imbalance” between the need for transplants in ethnic minority communities and the number of donors. Hayley Armstrong, 33, today said the life of her father Hurlington Armstrong, 67, had been transformed after the transplant last August at Guy’s hospital.
“He doesn’t know what to do with himself because he has so much energy,” the mother of two said. “At times I’m overwhelmed by how he is now, compared with how he was. I saw my dad looking like his world was over to now having a new lease of life.”
NHS Blood and Transplant says 121 deceased black, Asian and minority ethnic people donated organs in 2018/19, and 149 BAME “live donors” gave a kidney or part of their liver. However, almost a third of people awaiting a transplant, about 1,800, are from ethnic minority groups. The problem is most acute in black communities. Blood and tissue need to match for a transplant to work and people from the same ethnic group are more likely to match.
Black communities with strong religious beliefs are often deterred because of “misinformation and myths” about donating, NHS BT says. Black people are also less likely to donate blood. Mr Armstrong, a retired carpenter from Brixton, was on dialysis for more than a year after his kidney function deteriorated due to high blood pressure. The Armstrongs will be at the Big Conversation, the first living donation event for black kidney patients and their families, at London South Bank University today.
Mr Armstrong said: “Black people need to have more information and to meet donors and recipients … They often get the wrong idea about donation. Hopefully hearing my story can encourage them.”
Dela Idowu, of Gift of Living Donation, said: “I hope the event will give black patients the confidence to talk about living donation and inspire loved ones to consider becoming a living donor.”