AN ISLAMIC charity has launched a website to encourage British Muslims to learn more about organ donation, after one of its surveys found 75 per cent of the community had never discussed the subject with anyone.
New Horizons in British Islam — which engages in critical discussions on Muslim identity, traditions and reforms — said the website “summarises what the Islamic position on organ donation is, sets out the 2020 law change and answers some common questions around donating”.
In May 2020, England had implemented a new organ donation law, under which people will be considered to have agreed to donate organs after death, unless they record their intent to “opt out”, or belong to an excluded group.
Since then, at least 167,000 people have removed themselves from the organ donation list. And, according to NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), 23 per cent of them were black or Asian.
New Horizons in British Islam has been working with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) to help address the “critical shortage” of organ donors from black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
According to the NHS, someone dies waiting for a transplant every day in the UK.
Data from 2019 showed almost a third (31 per cent) of those waiting for a transplant in the country were from BAME backgrounds, despite the group making up just 14 per cent of the population.
“One of the most important conversations people can have in their lives is about death,” said a New Horizons spokesperson.
“British Muslims have lots of questions about how organ donation sits with their faith and the process but they don’t seem to be talking about it with their families.
“We’re positive the website can be a tool to answer questions, help people make an informed decision and to encourage Muslims to have an honest and open dialogue with their families about it.”
Amjid Ali, who had been on the organ donor register for 23 years before he received a kidney in 2011, said he “very much hoped” the initiative would raise awareness, and bolster “the ongoing work of NHSBT… to build links with diverse Muslim communities living in the UK”.
Harpreet Matharu, specialist nurse for organ donation at NHSBT, said: “It’s important that people know they still and will always have a choice. Families will still be consulted, and people’s faith, beliefs and culture will continue to be respected.
“We know that families are more likely to say yes to donation if they have had the discussion are aware of what their loved one wanted.
“Death can be a difficult subject and especially in BAME communities it can quite often be seen as a taboo subject. We are hoping the new change in law will be the perfect opportunity to get these important conversations going.”