A shortage of transplant organs for black people and Asians in the UK is being caused by a lack of donations from within those communities, NHS Blood and Transplant has said.
Fewer than a third of black and Asian families allow a dead relative’s organs to be used, compared with two-thirds of white families.
More than 1,300 people died waiting for a transplant in the UK last year.
The NHS said ethnic minority groups needed to discuss organ donation.
Although people from ethnic minorities can receive organs from white donors, the best match is often from a person with the same ethnic background.
The figures come from the Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report 2015-16, which is published on Thursday,
Its findings include:
- More organ transplants across UK than ever before in 2015-16
- 1,364 people became organ donors when they died and their donations resulted in 3,519 transplants taking place
- Donation consent rate increased to 62% – the target is 80% by 2020
- 26% of the current waiting list are people from black or Asian communities and need donors from their own community
- In 2015-16, the consent rate for potential donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities was almost half that of white patients – 34% compared with 66%
- 5% of all deceased organ donors were from black and Asian backgrounds
The report is published ahead of Organ Donation Week, which runs from 5 to 11 September.
A campaign to increase the UK’s rate of donations – currently among the lowest in Europe – has boosted the number by only 5% in four years.
The Welsh government says that since last December, when the law there changed to presume consent, the number of patients whose lives have been saved or improved by a transplant has increased by a quarter.
NHS Blood and Transplant also says family refusal is biggest obstacle to organ donation.
And it describes organ donation is “relatively rare” in the UK, because although more than half a million people die each year, only about 1% do so in circumstances which allow organs to be donated.
Sally Johnson, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said that as most people are prepared to accept a donated organ, they needed to be ready to donate also.
She added: “It is especially important for people from our black and Asian communities to talk about organ donation.
“I realise that this is a very difficult subject, but there are many black and Asian people who need a transplant. While some are able to receive an organ from a white donor, others will die if there is no donor from their own community.”