Page last updated at 01:37 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Plea for more Asian organ donors

Asian organ donors
Some Asians have been waiting years for a life-changing transplant

People from an Asian background have been urged to register as organ donors because of a severe shortage of organs for Asian patients in the UK.

About one in six people on the organ transplant waiting list is Asian but last year just 12 out of more than 500 organ donors in the UK were Asian.

As a result, Asians have to wait twice as long as white patients for an organ.

Muslim, Sikh and Hindu religious leaders have stressed there is no religious barrier to organ donation.

People of Asian origin are up to four times more likely than white people to suffer organ failure.

It is possible to carry out organ transplants between different ethnic groups but doctors are more likely to find a blood and tissue-type match in someone with the same ethnic background.

Chindra Singh was just 14-years-old when his kidneys failed. That was 25 years ago, and he is still waiting for a transplant.

'Biologically compatible'

He recalled: "I was fine on the Thursday, wasn't feeling too great at night time, on Friday the doctor turned up, called the emergency because i wasn't breathing very well.

"I ended up in intensive care, was there about two days and that's how quickly I was on dialysis."

Philip Dyer is professor of Transplant Science at the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service.

He said: "It's important, essential in organ transplantation that we match up the donor and recipient for blood groups, and in particular the blood group B is much more common in the Asian population than it is in the white European population.

"So in order for kidneys to work properly and not to fail immediately we need to make sure they are biologically compatible.

"In Scotland there are a few initiatives underway to help people understand no major religions are completely against organ donation and we are in Scotland beginning to engage with these communities really on an educational basis."

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