A special message on organ donation is being sent by Hindu and Jain community leaders and patients during this year’s Diwali festival.
The Hindu and Jain communities have shown their positive support for organ donation and welcome the introduction of the change in the law which comes into force next year in England and Scotland.
Kirit Modi, Chair of the Jain and Hindu organ donation (JHOD) steering group said: “I am delighted that Hindu and Jain community leaders, donor families and patients are sending powerful messages about organ donation this Diwali. We are also launching a Diwali video which consists of an amazing story from Shivum and Shyamal Kakkad about their father recently donating his organs when he passed away. I urge everyone celebrating Diwali this year to think about organ donation and help save lives.”
In 2018/19, there were 149 Asian organ donors in the UK; 83 were living kidney donors and there were more Asian deceased donors than ever before, with 56 people giving the gift of life after death.
But there were still 1006 people from Asian backgrounds waiting for an organ transplant. This shows the urgent need for more Asian organ donors. Most Asian patients receive transplants from white donors, but in reality, for many the best blood and tissue match would come from a donor of the same ethnic background, meaning a better outcome for the patient.
Millie Banerjee, Chair of NHS Blood and Transplant said: “Diwali is a time of kindness and reflection where we acknowledge the good deeds done for others. Hindus believe in sewa – selfless service – and what better selfless service than donating your organs after death to someone in need of a transplant? Every day across the UK someone dies waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant and people from BAME backgrounds wait longer than white patients for a kidney transplant, the most transplanted organ. Often the best match comes from a person of the same ethnicity so I would encourage everyone this Diwali to consider organ donation and speak to their families about their decision to be a donor.”
While being an organ donor is down to individual choice, it is concerning that the majority of people who have recorded an ‘opt out’ decision are BAME*. Given that the best transplant outcome is often from being matched with someone of the same ethnic origin, this could further impact patents in need of organ transplants from their community. Many have voiced concerns over the process itself, or whether their faith or beliefs will be respected, so NHS Blood and Transplant is encouraging people to find out more about the organ donation process and about the position of their faith or belief system on organ donation.
Lord Jitesh Gadhia supports the work done to encourage Hindus and Jains to find out more about organ donation, make a decision and share their decision with their families. He said:
“Diwali is a time to celebrate the victory of good over evil and the rise of a new dawn. This year also marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. His commitment to humanity is encapsulated by two powerful quotes: ‘To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer’ and ‘There are two days in the year that we cannot do anything – yesterday and tomorrow.’ So, this Diwali, I would urge everyone to follow Gandhiji’s inspirational words and sign up today to organ donation and give the ultimate gift of life.”
From spring 2020 in England and Autumn 2020 in Scotland, everyone will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups. This system was introduced in Wales in December 2015 and in Jersey in July this year.
Families will still always be involved in organ donation, so it is vital that they know what your choice is. Anyone who has also registered as an organ donor and made it clear that their faith must be considered as part of the organ donation process will have that decision honoured.
In the lead up to the change in law, NHS Blood and Transplant is urging families across England to talk and share their decision. If the time comes, families find the organ donation conversation much easier if they already know what their relative wanted.
Hindu and Jain communities are actively involved in explaining the change in law and have developed special videos and leaflets aimed at their communities.
Find out more and register your decision by visiting NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk and share your decision with your family.
For additional information please contact Pam Pye at NHS Blood and Transplant by calling 0151 268 7205 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Kirit Modi at the National BAME Transplant Alliance email@example.com. Alternatively, call the NHSBT press office on 01923 367 600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org