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Friday, 24 May, 2002, 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK
Plea for black organ donors
There is a shortage of organs for black patients
There is a shortage of organs for black patients
Black people are being encouraged to sign up as donors because of a chronic shortage of organs.

They are three times more likely to develop kidney failure than white people, but under 1% of organ donors are black.

The success of a transplant depends on finding a close tissue match, so this shortage means black people have to wait significantly longer for transplants than white people.

There is a high incidence of illness which can lead to organ failure, such as diabetes, sickle cell diseases and hypertension amongst black people.

The campaign features comedian Curtice Walker
The campaign features comedian Curtice Walker
Now the NHS Organ Donor programme is trying to encourage more black people to agree to donate their organs.

Some people have concerns about donation because of their culture or religion.

But experts say in most cases people simply do not know about the need for more black organ donors.

'Unaware'

Cynthia Davis, black organ donor awareness manager in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority told BBC News Online: "If you don't have as good a match as possible, you're going to wait that much longer for a transplant than, say, a white patient will wait.

"That's why we're trying to encourage people to become donors.


A lot of black people aren't aware of the issue

Cynthia Davis, black organ donor awareness manager
"A lot of black people aren't aware of the issue, and even though people might have a vaguely heard about organ donation, they have not been educated about it."

Marcus Lawson has to have dialysis lasting five hours several times a week. He is waiting for a kidney transplant.

Mr Lawson told the BBC: "It's quite frightening. It's like being on death row. On death row, you know one day you're going.

"In terms of waiting for a donor, you don't know when you'll get a donor."

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Branwen Jeffreys
"Black people are three times more likely to need a kidney transplant, but only 1% of organ donors are black"
See also:

25 Jan 02 | Health
17 Jun 01 | Health
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