Black Church leaders call for Black donors – amid ‘urgent shortage’

Zenith Seyi Abiodun donating blood. Her brother Charming is a sickle cell patient (Picture: NHS)

Church leaders from Black Christian organisations are joining together this Easter to urge more people of African, Caribbean or mixed ethnicity to become blood and organ donors.

More people of African, Caribbean, or mixed ethnicity are urgently needed to become blood and organ donors.

The best chance of a match for patients needing a blood transfusion or a kidney transplant is most likely to come from donors from the same ethnic background.

The shortage of donors means patients who are of Black heritage are waiting significantly longer for a transplant or receive a less well-matched blood transfusion.

There are currently 607 patients of Black ethnicity waiting for a transplant.

Faith leaders from 30 church organisations are joining with NHS Blood and Transplant to support the 2022 ‘Give Hope This Easter’ campaign. They are calling on members of the Black Christian community to register to give blood and to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, sharing this decision with their family.

It comes ahead of a summit of Black faith leaders in London on April 19 to discuss ways to tackle the barriers to donation in the African and Caribbean communities and raise awareness of the need for more donors.

Sickle cell is a blood disorder more common in African or Caribbean people which requires regular blood transfusions to help treat and prevent painful symptoms and complications.

Black man giving blood

Bishop Mark Nicholson giving blood (Picture: Kirsty Hamilton Photography)

Ethnically matched blood gives patients the best chance for long-term health and donors of Black ethnicity are 10 times more likely to have the sub-type Ro that is needed to treat many sickle cell patients.

Bishop Mark Nicholson, from ACTS Christian Ministries, has been giving blood since the 1980s but it was only after a recent donation that he realised he had the rare yet highly in demand Ro blood type that is most often needed by people with Sickle Cell disease.

Inspired by this, Mark organised a blood donation event for people of Black ethnicity in Croydon last week.

‘It was an amazing feeling to know I had this important blood sub-type Ro and I connected it to my spirituality – to know that I can do this one simple thing to help save lives in the Black African and Caribbean community was incredible,’ says Mark.

When it comes to organ donation, a recent survey found that just 39.5% of Black, Asian, mixed heritage or minority ethnic families agreed to support donation going ahead, compared to 69% of families from white backgrounds.

When asked, the majority of these families said they didn’t know what their relative would have wanted, or that they didn’t feel they knew enough about organ donation.

Some were still unsure about how organ donation fitted with their faith and beliefs.

Faith leaders from all religious backgrounds have spoken out in support of organ donation and all major religions within the UK have pledged support for organ donation in principle.

Paul Rochester, general secretary of the Free Churches Group, adds: ‘We are pleased to be working with the NHS Blood and Transplant team on this event.

‘It is important for churches to use their networks and influence, to encourage new donors from Black, Asian, mixed heritage and minority ethnic communities to come forward and give blood.

‘I also want to encourage people from these communities to talk about organ donation with their families this Easter and share their decision with them, because the gift of life through transplantation is a wonderful thing.’

Geraldine Parker, National Community Engagement Manager at NHS Blood and Transplant, says: ‘Easter is an important time of reflection, of hope and of celebrating the gift of life.

‘With the support of church leaders we hope that this message of compassion will inspire more people in the Black Christian community to become blood and organ donors.

‘Over 60% of people from Black heritage, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds tell us that they would be willing to donate their organs after death, however it is important people know that families will still be consulted before donation goes ahead.

‘So please speak with your family this Easter to share your decision and record it on the NHS Organ Donor Register.’

NHS Blood and Transplant is urging people to register their organ donation decision and to share their decision with their family. To register your decision, please visit the website or call 0300 123 23 23.

To become a blood donor you can register today and book an appointment by calling 0300 123 23 23, downloading the GiveBloodNHS app, or visiting

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