POTENTIAL donors who have signed up to the organ donation register should discuss their decision with loved ones so their wishes are respected, campaigners and health authorities have said.
Members of the minority community have increased difficulty in finding a suitable match when it comes to organ transplants as few black, Asian and other minorities sign up for organ donation.
The blood and blood and transplant unit of the NHS (NHSBT), signed an agreement in London with Indian charity, Mohan Foundation, to increase registration and transplant rates in both countries on Thursday.
James Newberger, associate director of the organ donation and transplantation at NHSBT, said it was imperative to get the timing and manner of conversation about organ donation right.
Often, even though potential donors had signed up to the register, their failure to discuss their wishes with family members meant that organ transplant could not take place, he said.
“The time of death is too late (to have the transplant talk),” Newberger added.
It is hoped that the agreement with the Indian organisation will help officials in both countries resolve such issues. It is estimated that on average, three people die every day because of a shortage of organs for transplant.
Ian Trenholm, chief executive of NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said: “We are delighted to share our experience and expertise with them (the Mohan foundation) to help to achieve their goals to increase organ donation and transplantation activity in India.”
Campaigners say British Asians are more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the UK population as they are at a higher risk of contracting diabetes, kidney and heart disease, which can lead to organ failure.
There are currently 6,871 people on the transplant list, among them 1,071 British Asian people.
Dr Sunil Shroff, managing trustee of the Mohan Foundation said: “Improving the donation rate in both the countries is the objective of this partnership.”
Officials from both sides stressed that it was important to raise awareness about transplants and dispel myths around organ donation.
A donor optimisation app has been launched to complement the work of the foundation.
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, president of the British Medical Association, presided over the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NHSBT and the Mohan Foundation.
Set up in 1997, the Mohan Foundation is a a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation that helps promote organ donation in India
An “implementation group” which will steer discussions as part of the agreement is expected to take annual stock of progress made under the terms of the co-operation deal.