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Organ donors to be asked if they are religious

Changes to donor forms hope to boost applications from black and Asian people

Mark Gould

Thursday, 13 December 2018

From today people who join the NHS organ donation register will be asked if they want their religious beliefs to be considered in the donation process.

The new question on the application form aims to reassure people that donation can take place in line with their faith or beliefs.

It is hoped the measure can help to boost the low proportion of donors from black and Asian backgrounds. Research has found religious and cultural beliefs are the main barrier to organ donation in these communities.

Last year, 42% of black and Asian families agreed to donate their relative's organs, compared with 66% of families from the overall population, according to NHS Blood and Transplant which runs the organ donor register.

More than a third of patients waiting for a kidney transplant are from black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities and often their best chance of a match will come from someone of the same ethnic background.

A part of the shortage of donors is caused by people from these backgrounds choosing not to donate.

But even if a person does choose to donate by signing up to the register, families have the final say on whether their organs should be used.

NHS Blood and Transplant said this would enable nurses to discuss concerns about the process with families, such as whether a burial would be delayed.

Jackie Doyle-Price, minister for inequalities, said: "Organ donation is a priceless gift but thousands of people are still waiting for a transplant and we must do all we can to remove the barriers that prevent people from signing up as a donor.

"This important update will give people the confidence that when they register a decision to donate their organs, their beliefs will always be considered."

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