An innovative conference addressing the challenges of organ donation in black communities was held at the Calvary Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Tottenham.
The conference was organised by the organ donation committee of the Royal Free Hospital and attracted 85 people. They heard about the process of organ donation from a transplant surgeon, a specialist nurse for organ donation and a health psychologist.
Patients were also on hand to tell their stories, a kidney transplant recipient and liver transplant recipient both shared with the audience how organ transplantation had transformed their lives. The sister of a deceased donor also explained how her brother saved lives by donating his organs and described the discussions within her family which led to this remarkable gift of life.
The Mayor of Haringey, Cllr Stephen Mann, attended the conference and thanked everyone for organising this important event.
David Myers, chairman of the Royal Free Hospital organ donation committee and president of the Royal Free Hospital kidney patients association said: “We have to address the enormous gap between the number of black patients who need an organ transplant and the number of black organ donors from the community served by the Royal Free Hospital.
“The conference highlighted the main challenges we face and how we can address them. I am delighted that we worked in partnership with the COGIC to address this important issue and hope to do so with other communities in the future.”
Janet Brown who attends COGIC said: “We were happy to host this conference. As a church, we see the need for people to be enlightened, educated and informed about organ donation. It was very satisfying to see so many members of our community enjoying the day. We are hoping to do more work in this area in the future.”
Alice Workman, specialist nurse for organ donation at the Royal Free Hospital, said: “It’s vital that all communities know about the importance of organ donation to ensure people can make an informed decision about signing up to the organ donor register. It’s so important that you discuss your wishes with your friends and family.
“Donors can give the gift of life and not only transform the recipient’s life but also touch the lives of so many others. It can also be a great source of comfort for the donor’s family that the deceased has chosen to do this for others.”