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Parliamentary focus on plight of transplant patients from minority backgrounds

05 December 2023

A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Ethnicity Transplantation and Transfusion has concluded that minority ethnic transplant patients face double inequity.

Having submitted evidence to the APPG we welcome this focus on the longstanding issue of the inequity people from minority ethnic backgrounds face in their kidney health and access to transplantation. The APPG has rightly identified that people from minority ethnic communities are not only disproportionately affected by kidney disease, but that they often wait far longer for a kidney transplant. We also highlighted these issues in our 2019 report Kidney Health Inequalities in the UK and are joining the call for urgent, further investment in research and community outreach work to close this unfair divide.

Black patients waiting longer for a kidney transplant

Whilst there have been improvements over time, the latest Annual Report on Ethnicity Differences in Organ Donation and Transplantation from NHS Blood and Transplant showed black patients are waiting six months longer for a kidney transplant than white patients and Asian people are waiting approximately five months longer than white patients. For some people, the transplant simply doesn’t come in time.

Here at Kidney Research UK we have been working with the Scottish Government to address issues around kidney health and organ donation for a number of years. Since 2013, our community outreach programme in Edinburgh and Glasgow has seen over 1,300 additional people from South Asian communities sign the organ donor register. We have also run multi-faith webinars to increase organ donation awareness in conjunction with Kidney Wales.

Research to address inequities

We also fund research to positively address inequities, and Professor Mike Nicholson’s recent success is notable. People from minority ethnic groups are less likely to be a match for the majority of donated kidneys. Professor Nicholson has successfully changed the blood type of donor kidneys, converting them to the O blood type which can be used for people with any blood group. Whilst further research is needed before this can reach a clinical setting, the potential is very exciting.

Mike Nicholson, Normothermic Perfusion
Professor Mike Nicholson is researching how normothermic perfusion can be used to preserve donor kidneys

Next steps

We are carrying out our own analysis of the work that has been done to address kidney health inequalities since our 2019 report, and will be sharing the results next year.

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