‘Spread awareness of organ donation’

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Kidney Research UK are appealing for members of the Pakistani Muslim community in Birmingham that think they can persuade others to follow their lead to attend an exclusive Sadaqa Project Launch event on 26 June.

The community is the focus of a new project managed by Kidney Research UK which aims to reach out to members of the community to encourage them to become ‘peer educators’. Its aim is to raise awareness of organ, blood and bone marrow donation, and increase the number of people from the Pakistani Muslim community who sign up to these registries.

The charity is working with the National BAME Transplant

Alliance (NBTA) partners, and the project is funded by the Department of Health. A network of up to 20 trained ‘peer educators’, from the Pakistani Muslim community are being trained and encouraged to speak to their peers in their community. They will raise awareness of the importance of and need for organ, blood and bone marrow donation in their community, and will help challenge beliefs which can act as a barrier to donation.

The shortage of donors results in people with a Pakistani Muslim background waiting much longer for transplants. In the case of kidney transplants, they wait up to a year longer than the rest of the population.

Many wait four years or more, and some die before getting a transplant. So far although 10 Peer Educators have been trained, the charity desperately needs more to help spread the word.

Neerja Jain, Kidney Research UK’s Health Improvement Projects Manager, said: “The aim of the launch on 26 June is to talk to members of the Pakistani Muslim community about the issues affecting their community and how they can get involved as peer educators. Spreading the word about organ, blood and bone marrow donation is vital, and we urgently need more peer educators to help us to do this.

In particular, we want to speak to people that feel they have influence within their Pakistani Muslim community about joining the small group of peer educators already working hard in Birmingham to change perceptions and garner support.”

Dr Adnan Sharif, Consultant Nephrologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, said: “Pakistani

Muslims are over-represented on waiting lists for organ or stem cell transplants but under-represented as registered donors. This disparity is evident across the United Kingdom but is a clear concern in cities like Birmingham with a large representation from the Pakistani Muslim community.

“The majority of Pakistani Muslims who receive organs or stem cells are likely to have had that donated by a non-Pakistani Muslim (almost certainly White). This results in longer waiting times for Pakistani Muslims who need lifesaving treatment, as better matching is likely within similar ethnic groups. This unfortunately means Pakistan Muslims may die waiting for such lifesaving treatment due to prolonged waiting times. We hope this project will lead to an increased understanding of the importance of donation within the Pakistani Muslim community and to reinforce the notion that transplantation cannot happen without willing donors from all sections of the community.”

The peer educator model has been used by Kidney Research UK within communities facing similar health issues across the UK. The charity has successfully encouraged over 2,000 people from the Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.