Organ donation presents “a gift of life” but more needs to be done to increase the number of donors – especially from ethnic minority communities – borough councillors have been told.
Deputy mayor, councillor James Weir (Conservative, Great Denham) told councillors last night (11 October) that the health inequalities faced by ethnic minority patients mean that they can wait an “exceptionally long time” for suitable matches.
“[Bedford] Hospital’s Organ Donation Committee is asking for Bedford Borough Council to support their work in helping to encourage awareness and education of organ donation,” he said.
“So important conversations can be had about these decisions – especially among ethnic minority groups.
“I would ask that the council resolves, therefore, to recognise the life-changing saving potential of organ donation and support the work of Bedford Hospital Organ Donation Committee.
“[So] that the council calls upon all members, officers, and the executive to help, where possible and appropriate, the organ donation committee’s work.
“And to assist with raising awareness and distribution of educational material, particularly among ethnic minority communities.”
Councillor Weir added that the council should also recognise that ethnic minorities face similar issues with blood donors.
In seconding councillor Weir’s motion, councillor Abu Sultan (Labour, Cauldwell) said the shortage of organs available for ethnic minority patients was “due to a number of factors”.
“Including lower rates of organ donation among ethnic minority groups as well as biological differences that can make it more difficult to find a match,” he said.
“It is important to raise awareness and educate people about organ donation, especially in ethnic minority communities.
“This would help to understand any myths or misconceptions and encourage more people to register as organ donors.
“The motion also calls on the council to raise awareness of blood donation
from ethnic minority groups.
“This is also important as ethnic minority patients are more likely to need blood transfusions, but they’re less likely to be blood donors,” he said.
The motion was passed unanimously.
Bedfordians can register their decision to donate tissues and organs by visiting the NHSBT website.
Donors should always discuss this with their loved ones so that they are certain about their wishes.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter