Special events held to promote organ donation within the Hindu and Jain community

An outreach activity by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

AS MANY AS 211 events were held by organisations within the Hindu and Jain community to address the urgent need for black, Asian and minority ethnic organ donors between November 2018 and June 2019. As a result of these initiatives around 900 people recorded their decision to donate, said a statement.

The leading organisations were Vanik Council UK, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Leicester-based Santosh Community Centre CIC and Lightseekers Ltd. Other projects were delivered by Sewa Day, Lancashire BME Network and Global Kidney Foundation.

They have designed and implemented projects to break down myths and increase support for organ donation after securing funding in October 2018 through NHS Blood and Transplant’s BAME Community Investment Scheme.

The projects were amongst 25 organisations to share a £140,000 funding. The second round of projects are now underway. A further £190,000 was distributed amongst another 25 projects

The projects were delivered by organisations representing Jain, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Swahili, black and Asian Christians, black African and Caribbean and multi-faith groups. Around 130,000 people attended organ donation events.

Recently, the progress report of the first round of projects was published. The ‘Give Hope, Give Life’ project by Global Kidney Foundation focused on its nurses discussing organ donation during free health check-ups at churches, universities and other venues. Other activities include workshops at community events.

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha delivered outreach activity in the local Hindu community and raised awareness through social media, emails and leaflets.

“We have produced an information leaflet that specifically addresses issues that may prevent Hindus from considering organ donation. This includes clear encouragement from religious leaders and quotations from our scriptures in support of organ donation. In addition, patient stories from families in our community that have donated or benefited from donation have strengthened the message and highlighted the benefits,” said Sejal Saglani from BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.

“We have worked together with several Hindu communities and engaged over 2000 Hindus at religious events, workshops, and seminars.”

The BAME Community Investment Scheme is an important part of a government campaign led by NHS Blood and Transplant, with support from the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA), to address the critical shortage of organ donors from these backgrounds.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “Building awareness is critical, and projects like this are doing excellent work with local communities and black and minority ethnic groups. This is especially vital as people from BAME backgrounds are more likely to need a transplant, but tragically less likely to receive one due to the shortage of BAME donors to provide the right match. To save more lives, we need to make sure these conversations happen.”

“Because the BAME Community Investment Scheme aims to drive a conversation about organ donation, its impact can’t be measured in numbers alone.

Millie Banerjee, Chairman of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We hope that hearing a positive organ donation message from a trusted voice has helped encourage more people in black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic communities to decide they want to be a lifesaving donor, and share that decision with their families.”

From 20 May 2020 all adults in England are now considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die, unless they record a decision not to donate.

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