New study sets out to find why people don't donate organs

Published on July 12, 2006 at 6:35 AM · No Comments

Researchers are looking for volunteers to take part in a new study to find out why there is a shortage of organ donations in the UK.

With nearly 7000 people currently waiting for organ transplants in the UK, the study aims to find how people decide whether to donate their own or family members' organs after their death. Dr Glenn Smith from Imperial College London, who is conducting the study, said:

"Previous research tells us that in theory between 50 and 70 per cent of people are happy to donate - however this doesn't come across in practice. We hope this project will help explain why this gap exists between what people say they are happy to do, and what they actually do."

Although there is a shortage of donor organs across all population groups in the UK, the researchers say it is particularly acute within Indo-Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities. This is a problem because these groups generally have higher levels of hypertension and diabetes which can lead to kidney failure, increasing the chances of them needing a kidney transplant.

Dr Smith and his team will be looking at possible factors behind the UK's low donation rate, such as individual or cultural beliefs and trust in the National Health Service. He added:

"The shortage of donor organs, particularly kidneys, for these ethnic groups is even more problematic because we find that these groups are less likely to donate than those from a White British background. We need to find out why this difference exists."

Although medical technology, such as anti-rejection drugs and therapies, can reduce the risk of a transplant rejection if the donor and recipient are from different ethnic groups, a close match is important to minimise the chance of future complications.

The researchers are looking for volunteers aged 18 and over from Indo-Asian, Afro-Caribbean and White British backgrounds, able to spend between one and two hours being interviewed about their views and experiences of organ donation and transplantation.

The study, funded by Kidney Research UK and the Big Lottery Fund, is launched during National Transplant Week which runs from 9-15 July, with a launch event at the House of Lords.

http://www.imperial.ac.uk

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