The government has announced £440,000 of funding available to Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to address the shortage of organ, blood and stem cell donors.
The scheme, run by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), aims to address the urgent need for more donors from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
As well as a long waiting list for BAME organ transplants, there is a growing and critical need for more Black blood donors to treat blood disorders like sickle cell.
Working alongside the leading blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, NHSBT is working to raise awareness of stem cell donation.
The Community Investment Scheme aims to raise awareness and will fund projects encouraging more Black and Asian people to become donors through community, faith or belief organisations.
Now in its fourth year, NHSBT is looking for applications that will engage with diverse communities.
With £440,000 available to community-based projects across the UK, organisations will be able to apply for one of four funding bands:
- Funds up to £2,499 (blood, organ, or combined)
- Funds between £2,500 – £10,000 (blood, organ or combined)
- Funds between £10,001 and £20,000 (blood or combined)
- Funds of £20,000 set amount (stem cell)
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, NHSBT is looking for community engagements that can be delivered digitally.
In 2020/21, there were only 146 organ donors (84 deceased, and 62 living) from Black, Asian, mixed heritage and minority ethnic communities.
This was a 25% reduction in deceased donors and a 61% reduction in living donors compared to 2019/20 figures.
Over the same period, of the 1,180 deceased organ donors in the UK, just 7% were from Black, Asian, mixed heritage and minority ethnic communities.
However, 1,237 people still remain on the waiting list from these communities, making up 29.5% of all people waiting for a transplant.
When approached about organ donation last year, 39.5% of Black, Asian, mixed heritage or minority ethnic families agreed to support donation going ahead, compared to 69% of white families.
One of the key motives of the Community Investment Scheme is tacking the barriers around organ donation by driving conversation among families and addressing religious concerns about organ donation.
The NHS Blood and Transplant is also encouraging more people from Black African and Black Caribbean communities to become blood donors.
This is due to the growing rates of sickle cell disease, with 300 babies a year born with the blood disorder in the UK.
People from Black African or Black Caribbean backgrounds are most likely to have this condition.
As a result, they require regular blood transfusions that need blood matched as closely as possible to their own.
The chance of a match is greatly increased if the donor is of the same ethnicity.
Currently, Black blood donors make up only 1.5% of the total donor base.
Along with blood donations, NHSBT is working in partnership with Anthony Nolan to find projects and increase raise awareness of stem cell donation, particularly addressing the Asian communities.
Altaf Kazi, Head of Partnerships and Community Engagement at NHSBT said: “We are asking more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to find out about blood, organ and stem cell donation and help us to address the health inequalities that many members of these communities may face.
“By giving your support you can help save lives.”
Henny Braund MBE, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan says: “If you’re aged 16-30 and from a minority ethnic background, patients need people just like you to give them a second chance of life.
“You can be part of the solution, by joining the Anthony Nolan register.”