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Breaking down taboos around organ donation

PICTURED: Suzanne McDonald and her brother Derrick

A WOMAN who donated a kidney to her brother has called for more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) donors after participating in the British Transplant Games held during July 25 to 28.

Suzanne McDonald, manager of the Business and Law school at the University of East London made the appeal after taking part in games with her brother, Derrick, whom she donated a kidney to 10 years ago. “I didn’t have to think twice,” she said. “I had something that could give him his life back while not making a difference to mine.

The day of the surgery was a bit nerve wracking, but I was excited to help him back to good health. It has not made a difference to my health in anyway.”

Derrick, who received a kidney from another donor two years ago, triumphed in the men’s swimming competition, picking up gold in the butterfly and silver in the front crawl.

His sister, Suzanne, who ran for the Barts Health NHS Trust and the Royal London Hospital where her brother had both transplants, was also awarded a medal for her participation in the 3K donor run while also finishing 3rd in the heat of the donor 100 metres race.

It was only recently that the Voice reported on a campaign to recruit more donors as hundreds from the BAME community awaited organ transplants in the UK.

When we spoke to Dela Idowu, founder and director of the charity Gift of Living Donation (GOLD) during the launch of an appreciation lunch for donors and their recipients, she said: “The majority of black people don’t know of anyone who is a living donor so they often focus on the negative aspects of organ donation.

"They fear something could go wrong with the transplant operation or something terrible could happen. It was therefore important for us to showcase some of the hundreds of black men and women who have overcome fear to successfully donate a kidney to a loved one.”

At the time of the launch, 632 black people had been waiting for a transplant, with the vast majority of those in need of a kidney, according to figures from NHS Blood and Transplant.

Also, a study in 2018 by the London Assembly found that black and Asian patients waited six months longer than white patients for kidney transplants.

But for Suzanne and Derrick, it was a time to celebrate a successful run in the 2019 British Transplant Games, where a total of 950 transplant recipients took part in 25 events.

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