Ethnicity can often play an essential part in blood transfusions, stem cell transplants and organ transplants. Black donors are more likely to have rare blood and tissue types and black patients are more likely to require these rare types so it is important that we have more black blood, organ and stem cell donors.
Black people are currently under represented as blood donors, with less than one percent of active blood donors coming from Black African, Black Caribbean or mixed race communities. There are currently more people living with Sickle Cell Disease than there are active black and mixed race donors.
There are also fewer black organ donors as last year only 20 out of the 1,282 deceased donors in the UK were from the black community. In contrast there are currently around 600 black people waiting for an organ transplant with the vast majority of those in need of a kidney transplant.
Additionally black people are more likely to need an organ transplant than people from white communities as they are more susceptible to illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis, all of which may result in organ failure and the need for a lifesaving transplant.
Stem cell donation can help save the lives of people suffering from leukaemia and sickle cell disease as well as other diseases of the immune system. Around 70 percent of patients have to rely on a matched volunteer donor, identified through the British Bone Marrow Registry. People from black backgrounds are less likely to find a match than Caucasian patients.
We teamed up with George the Poet, a London-based spoken word performer, for the powerful poem ‘The Human Story’ “By registering as an organ donor, you can make the ultimate contribution to the human story: you can save a life,” George the Poet says in the film.
Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive at NHS Blood and Transplant said:
“We’re incredibly grateful to those who already donate blood, who have joined the Organ Donor or stem cell registers but it is vital that we encourage more black people to sign up and talk to their family and friends about their decision.
“If you’ve not thought about it before, then why not do so this Black History Month. We need a new generation of life savers from the black communities.”