Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Kidneys for transplant

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 11 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1105

Rapid Response:

Donation of Organs by Ethnic Minorities

Dear Madam/Sir,

This is with reference to the articles “Kidneys for Transplant:
Clinicians Ask but Relatives Refuse” published in BMJ, 13th May 2006. The
data published is very impressive. The changes in the new Human Tissue Act
were long awaited but I would have called these changes radical only if
this law would have said that every person resident in this country is a
potential donor irrespective of consent.

I believe that the new law is not really going to make much
difference in practical terms, even when there is no legal requirement to
establish lack of objection on the part of relatives if the donor has
registered their wishes on the organ donor register. I think this law
should have gone one step further; every family in the UK should be sent a
declaration form regarding the donation of organs. Any family that
declares not to be included on the donor register without an acceptable
reason should be barred from receiving the donation of organs.

Being a surgeon of Asian origin I feel embarrassed that our community
is not contributing towards such a noble cause (35% of the white
population refuses consent for donation compared to 70% of ethnic
minorities) when there are no specific reasons for them not to donate
organs. The reasons for not giving the consent by the relatives tabulated
in the paper are all non-specific and can be over ruled by the authority.
Pertaining to Asian people, the most common reason for refusal of donation
is attributed to religion. As far as Islam is concerned, it actually
encourages donation by saying “If you save one life you save the whole of
humanity”. I think that their refusal is more the result of lack of
awareness and myths regarding the actual donation process and the way that
they have been approached in the past has largely contributed to their
refusal. The authorities need to make it clear that if they refuse organ
donation without proper thought and reason, simply because it is a more
convenient and comfortable option than refusal, they cannot realistically
expect to receive and hence drain an already extremely limited pool of
organs in this country.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Professor M A Noorani
Consultant Surgeon.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 June 2006
Maqsood A Noorani
Consultant Surgeon
Transplant Unit, Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel