Giving donors priority for organ transplant would boost donation

21 August 2013

People who sign up to donate their organs should be given priority if they need a transplant, as it would improve donation rates among ethnic minorities, according to research published in the prestigious BMJ by QEHB renal consultant Adnan Sharif.

Dr Adnan Sharif

Dr Adnan Sharif

Dr Sharif’s research looks at the poor rates of donation among black, Asian and other ethnic minorities in the UK, which have persisted despite a 50% increase in overall donation rates from deceased donors since 2008. That year marked the publication of recommendations by a taskforce set up in 2006  to tackle the country’s low donation rates.

“Since publication of this report there has been a huge failure to boost organ donation from members of black, Asian, and other minority ethnic communities,” Dr Sharif says in the publication.

“It is a similar story with the registration of donors for blood stem cell transplantation, with severe shortages of minority ethnic donors skewing the cell type matches available.”

“A new approach should be to tackle the elephant in the room: the problem of apathy or so called free riders—people who are happy to receive an organ but not to donate.”

He has studied an Israeli programme which acknowledges the commitment of registered donors by giving them priority if they need a transplant themselves.

“Developing a prioritisation system for organ and stem cell donation has inherent fairness for all — not just for minority ethnic people. Although it would positively affect the general population it would also likely serve as an impetus for minority ethnic people, who will have an even longer wait under a prioritisation system if they do not commit.”