The call for Black kidney donors

The call for Black kidney donors continues, why does this matter?

Much work still needs to be done to address the gap between ethnic minority communities who are willing to donate and those in need of a transplant, according to NHS Organ & Tissue Donation and Transplantation Report 21/22.

Harry and Meghan

We know that transplants are more successful when they are within the same ethnic group, due to blood group similarities and compatibility factors. Many groups and campaigns have been launched to drive home the important message of donation, and of course giving blood.

Black and Asian people are more likely to suffer kidney failure, this is because we are more likely to suffer higher levels of diabetes and high blood pressure, and these are both common causes in the onset of kidney disease.

Black patients wait the longest for a donor. The system works by pairing the intended recipients with their donor, in particular those with the closest tissue type matches as this will maximise the chance of successful outcomes and this is more likely when the donor is from the same background as the recipient.


A penny for Richard’s thoughts at the time around life expectancy and quality…

It was a sunny Sunday morning over 12 years ago when my phone rang; I recall answering quickly as it was my sister-in-law’s number flashing up. My mind wandered frantically, suspecting something was up as she doesn’t typically call me. It wasn’t long before the conversation moved into its main premise, and that was the fact that my brother who was on dialysis, at the time was in need of a transplant – a penny for Richard’s thoughts at that time, in that moment, around life expectancy and quality.

That Sunday all my siblings had conversations of the same, it was preferable for the donor to come from within the family as a first port of call due to the improved chances of finding a match. Important, but straightforward discussions ensued over the following days, and Polly, our sister said that she would be the one to donate one of her kidneys to our brother Richard.

Polly donated to Richard in 19th January 2011, after tests and examinations at the world renowned Guys Hospital, London. I remember visiting them both immediately after their simultaneous operations, Richard and Polly in opposite areas of the same ward. Our Mother had passed away two months earlier, how proud she was of her eldest daughter offering, and now donating. Mum had arranged with me to present Polly with a special gift after the donation, which I did.

Today, Richard and Polly are both healthy and enjoying their respective lives, advocates of the messaging around donation and its importance. They are living proof that organ donation can not only prolong life, but all parties can live a happy and healthy one, with a focus on taking care of all matters including diet, lifestyle and exercise, which are some things that we can take for granted.

We all know the story of ACLT (Beverley De-Gale OBE and Orin Lewis OBE), who are the forerunners in the messaging around blood giving and organ donation. Their tireless efforts began in in 1993, when their son Daniel was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. They continue to be prominent and do great work in getting their message out to the community at large.

Dela Idowu was unable to donate to her brother who suffered from kidney disease, so she decided to set up GOLD (Gift of Living Donation) to provide more awareness of living kidney donation within the Black community, and has recently introduced a buddy scheme where donors and recipients can talk about all matters of donation.

Andy Cole, the former Man United and England footballer has also lent his name to this space, as he too was donated a kidney. The Andy Cole Fund has been set up to raise awareness, and to support patient’s mental wellbeing.


Sending a message through the Choir

Harry and Meghan

Picture – The Black Living Donor Choir

We all need to be singing from the same hymn sheet in regards to the gift of life, and giving what we can, where and when we can. The Black Living Donor Choir, set up by Dela at GOLD, is making sure they sing loud and clear so we can all rejoice and celebrate what joys the gift of donation can bring for many. The Choir consists of donors’ it is a powerful group of individuals making sure that their message is being delivered through song. Music is the food of our souls, and we need the Choir to sing their messages of giving life and hope all over the land.


For further information on the organisations mentioned:




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1 Comment

  1. Dela Idowu

    Thank you for highlighting the need for more living kidney donors from the Black African Caribbean community.
    Your sister has transformed your brother’s life my donating one of her kidneys.


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