My job

Awareness campaign

I joined NHS Blood and Transplant as a specialist nurse in organ donation in 2012. Having spent my career working in critical care, organ donation was not a new concept for me, but in this specialist role I offer families the opportunity to donate their loved ones’ organs at the end of their life.

I joined NHS Blood and Transplant as a specialist nurse in organ donation in 2012. Having spent my career working in critical care, organ donation was not a new concept for me, but in this specialist role I offer families the opportunity to donate their loved ones’ organs at the end of their life.

Picture credit: Barney Newman

It always amazes me that people find the strength to be so selfless and courageous, thinking of others at such a difficult time.

At East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust in Blackburn, I began working with the local council and the community group One Voice to raise awareness of organ donation among the Asian population. Almost 25% of people waiting for a kidney transplant are black and minority ethnic (BME), but fewer than 2% of people on the organ donor register are from these groups.

After a gentle nudge from my manager, I applied for and won a Mary Seacole leadership award last year. Funded by Health Education England, NHS Employers and the Department of Health, and with the support of nursing and midwifery organisations, these awards support healthcare projects or developments to improve the health outcomes of BME people. The awards also provide opportunities for nurses to develop their leadership and communication skills.

This is a sensitive subject, but one which needs to be discussed and debated.

After working with the Asian community in Blackburn for more than two years, I realised that there was limited knowledge of organ donation and of the impact that not donating was having on this population.

People of South Asian origin are more susceptible to some conditions that cause organ failure, such as diabetes, and they also wait longer for a transplant due to the lack of suitable organs. Three people die each day throughout the UK waiting for a transplant.

I wanted to use the leadership award to raise awareness of organ donation, because I feel it is our job as nurses to provide communities with health information. My aim was to engage with and educate the community in a campaign to change perceptions of donation.

Working with One Voice, which acted as a representative for me in the Asian community, I started out intending to produce an advertisement for Asian television, spelling out the facts about organ donation. However, following a series of focus groups, it was evident that the best way to communicate was through social media.

We filmed a video, It’s About Time, in the heart of Blackburn’s Asian community that was launched last month (see resources). The next goal is for it to be shared nationally and act as an impetus for change.

I want people to understand what organ donation is and why it is especially important in their community. So many people I have met have been affected by organ failure, and I could see that action was needed to stop people dying unnecessarily.

Organ donation is a sensitive and emotive subject, but one which needs to be discussed and debated; most BME people would accept an organ if they or their loved one needed it, but most would not donate. My project encourages people to question this situation and get communities talking about organ donation.

I am grateful to the Mary Seacole awards for giving me this opportunity to help a hard-to-reach community.


Further information

Mary Seacole Awards

It’s About Time video

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