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Kidney Research UK project signs over 500 to NHS Organ Donor Register

A unique team of Peer Educators trained by Kidney Research UK - Britain’s leading charity dedicated to funding research into kidney disease - has successfully signed over 500 people to the NHS Organ Donor Register thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).

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Part of the charity’s Attitudes to Organ Donation project for which it received an award of £203,464 from BIG the initiative was led by Professor Anthony Warrens - Professor of Renal and Transplantation Medicine at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The charity’s research revealed a deeper need to engage with potential donors from black and South Asian backgrounds because of a greater need for organ transplants from these communities, due to high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure – both of which can lead to chronic kidney Disease (CKD).

Currently there are 7,000 people in the UK needing a kidney transplant with 1,000 of those from a black or South Asian background who will typically wait twice as long for a donor to become available.

Peer Educators in  North West London were trained by Professor Anthony Warrens and Kidney Research UK’s Project Manager Neerja Jain, to  explain the need for and processes involved with organ donation and how to  engage with their local communities and dispel any fears or taboos surrounding the subject. The Peer Educators then talked to the public on a one-to-one basis, and sometimes in groups, to sow the seeds of the information learnt from the Kidney Research UK team leading to an unexpected outcome - a significant number of these people signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Usha Shah, a Peer Educator working on the Kidney Research UK project said: “Our team has signed over 500 people to the register, I’m so glad to be doing something to highlight this important issue. I am very passionate about the project and have never felt this kind of dedication to what I’m doing.”

Neerja Jain, Kidney Research Project Manager said: “I’m delighted and very proud of our achievements on this project. It has surpassed all our expectations and we are very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for believing in our research and helping us make it happen. Without receiving this sort of funding our research would not be possible.”

Sir Clive Booth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “This project has achieved remarkable results since we awarded the grant from our Research Programme in 2005.

“BIG has invested over £80 million into medical and social research to enable organisations to produce and disseminate evidence-based knowledge, to influence local and national policy and practice, and develop better services and interventions. Kidney Research UK’s results show this project has certainly achieved that, making a great difference to the lives of people from black or South Asian communities in need of a transplant.”

As a result, the project is now being rolled out further afield and across other ‘at risk’ communities, thanks to funding from the Department of Health.

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