People from a BAME background face particular difficulty when searching for a suitable living donor for transplantation. This article explores the story of Alisha Gokani (23), an Indian woman, who needs a kidney donor from someone of the same ethnic background. This narrows her search field, making it harder to find a match. This is on top of a host of problems everyone in need of a kidney donor faces, including rearranging their life around dialysis appointments, managing multiple specialist appointments, and controlling the day-to-day physical and emotional stressors of their condition.
How are organ donors and recipients matched?
There are many instances where a transplanted organ is rejected by the body. This happened to Alisha, where unfortunately, her body rejected her mother’s kidney. Hence, she is told that only someone from anIndian background can potentially donate a kidney to her. Matching is a difficult process with no guarantee of a success. Many factors are involved, such as genetics, blood type, body size and age. These decisions are made by a panel who balance the factors related to each potential recipient.
Impact of organ donation on chronic illness
Many patients who have an organ-related illness have an associated chronic illness, making organ transplantation all the more necessary for their treatment. When successful, transplantation improves their quality of life and life expectancy. What impact do you think this will have on the NHS?
Religious and Cultural Beliefs
There are multiple reasons for the lack of BAME donors. In some religions and cultures, organ donation is not permitted or disliked due to the importance of keeping the body intact where possible. There is also a lack of education on the physical impact of organ donation on both donor and recipient in some cultures. Can you think of other reasons why BAME communities may be resistant to organ donation? Many leaders in these communities are raising awareness of the importance, impact and permissibility of organ donation through workshops, leaflets and posters.