By: Pramod Thomas
THE NHS Blood and Transplant has launched a new project bringing together Commonwealth nations to share expertise in organ donation and transplantation to increase ethical organ donation and transplantation.
The ‘Tribute to Life’ project, launched on Commonwealth Day on Monday (14) by health secretary Sajid Javid, is the culmination of three years’ work and represents progress towards obtaining health equality, both within the UK and the Commonwealth, a statement said.
As part of the project, countries will sign a Memorandum of Understanding effective at the start of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July, with 42 of the 54 countries making the pledge so far.
The signatories will share safe and ethical best practices, learning and experience from transplantation programmes, teaching and training materials, and chances for shared learning including conferences and mentorships and expertise in developing tissue banks services. They will also share their experience on the promotion of organ donation with special emphasis on minority and hard to engage groups.
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It will be an official legacy project of Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and part of the Games ‘United By Birmingham 2022’ community programme, the statement added.
“The Commonwealth Tribute to Life is the culmination of three years of dedicated work by NHS Blood and Transplant, Dr Dale Gardiner and Dr Satya Sharma MBE DL and I’m delighted to launch this initiative. Through sharing knowledge and awareness around organ and tissue donation and transplantation, Commonwealth nations can work together to save and transform the lives of thousands of patients,” said Javid.
“As part of this, we want people from all communities, but especially those from ethnic minority backgrounds, to discuss organ donation and make the life-saving choice to become a donor.”
In the UK, 6,230 people are waiting for an organ transplant, of this number 1,934 are from black, Asian, mixed or other ethnic minority backgrounds, this represents around 32 per cent of the transplant list.
“The 2022 Commonwealth Games are committed to bringing people together and celebrating the diversity of both the West Midlands and the Commonwealth,” said Dr Satya Sharma MBE, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, who chaired the project.
Dale Gardiner, associate medical director – Deceased Organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “As the world comes together, we will be showcasing the importance of organ and tissue donation. This Memorandum of Understanding can save and improve lives across the world. For those of you in the UK, we need you to talk to your family and tell them your organ donation decision – leave them certain of it.”
The World Health Organisation Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation estimates that there were over 146,000 organs transplanted in 2018 worldwide. It came from the generosity of over 40,000 living donors and nearly 39,000 deceased organ donors.
However, the rate of donation varies from zero donors in some Commonwealth nations to over 20 per million population in countries like Australia, Canada, Malta and the UK.