1. ITV Report

From the Heart - shortage of ethnic minorities on the donor list

Shortage of ethnic minorities on the donor list Photo: ITV

Walking into the dialysis unit in Prestwich to meet Wajid Iqbal was an eye-opener. He has been on the waiting list for a new kidney for 4 years. His life is effectively on hold at the moment; 4 days a week he comes to the self-care unit, inserts a needle into his arm, attaches himself to a dialysis machine and sits there for up to 6 hours at a time while it cleans and filters his blood.

He can't get up and walk around, go to the shops, hold down a job; instead he sits by the machine for hour after hour, day after day. Then, when not hooked up to the machine he's battling nausea, dizziness and aches and pains. This is the harsh reality of what his life is like on the waiting list. And he's not alone. In fact that unit in Prestwich was full of people in similar positions. Sat next to him was a woman who'd been on dialysis for 17 years. There was much laughter and cameraderie as they all sat there but this is no quality of life for people.

Wajid is in a more difficult position than most. His best tissue match would be from someone from a similar background to him but stats show there is an acute shortage of donors from ethnic minority backgrounds.In Manchester there are currently 889 patients waiting for a kidney transplant. Of those 155 patients are registered as Asian - thats about 17%. And yet only 1.6% of people on the organ donor register are Asians. And due to the increased risk of diabetes and hypertension, people from South Asian backgrounds are actually four times more likely to NEED a transplant in the first place.

Agimol Pradeep who's a transplant coordinator at Manchester's Royal Infirmary has been researching this problem as part of her PHD. She's gained funding from the British Renal Society and supported by the NHS Blood & Transplant, University of Salford and Manchester Royal Infirmary. Having seen the plight of hundreds of patients who are waiting desperately for a transplant, she's felt compelled to try and raise awareness. She says there are all sorts of reasons why so few people from ethnic minority backgrounds are signed up. Most of those are cultural reasons - many don't like to talk about death and organ donation. Religion has also been used as a possible reason but that's something the Iman based at the hospital is trying to dismiss.

"There is a general consensus amongst the scholars that organ donation is permissible, something that should be encouraged and one of the highest forms of charity." Siddiq Diwan

It seems that awareness is definitely the key to addressing this problem. And if more people, especially those from ethnic minorities were to sign up to the organ donor register, people like Wajid may be able to get on with their lives.

If you want to sign up, its easy - just go to #fromtheheart

See my report here:

More on this story