Appeal for ethnic minorities to join organ donor register

Muhammad Azam. Picture: contributed
Muhammad Azam. Picture: contributed
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A FATHER-OF-TWO from Edinburgh whose life was saved by a liver transplant has appealed for more people from ethnic minorities to join the donor register.

Muhammad Azam, 43, received his transplant a year ago, after just two months on the waiting list.

But a shortage of black, Asian and minority ethnic donors means people from these communities wait, on average, twice as long as the general population.

The Scottish Government is urging more people to join the Organ Donor Register and is making a special plea to Scots from minority communities to consider it.

Transplants are much more likely to be successful if the donor and recipient have the same ethnic origin. Statistics show around 25 per cent of people on the UK transplant waiting list are from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, yet only around five per cent of donors are from these communities.

Due to higher levels of diabetes, heart disease and hypertension within this population group, people from these communities are also up to three times more likely to need a transplant than the general population.

Mr Azam was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2006 after a routine medical examination and in 2012 his health began to decline rapidly.

He said: “I was constantly exhausted and was unable to walk at times because I felt so weak. It was a miserable existence. The doctors told me if I was ever going to recover I’d need a liver transplant.”

He was placed on the waiting list for a new liver in October 2014 and within two months he received the call he had been waiting for.

“It was late one night that I got the call to say there was a potentially suitable liver donor for me and that I had to go straight to the Royal Infirmary. After they ran tests on me overnight, I was told the liver was definitely a suitable match, and my transplant went ahead the next morning.

“I remember having very mixed feelings at this point. I was excited that I was finally going to get my transplant, but I was very aware that for me to get this fantastic news, another family were going through a horrendous time.

“As soon as I came round after the operation I felt noticeably different. I could tell something had changed and I just felt instantly better than I had in months.

“Since then my recovery has been fantastic. Two days after the transplant I was able to walk around again and within nine days I was allowed to go home to recuperate. I’m now back at work part-time and am looking forward to returning to full-time work in the near future.

“I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t done so already to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. It’s the most generous thing anyone could ever do for another person. Thanks to my donor, I’ve been given a second chance at life. It really is the greatest gift of all.”