Organ donation week: Find time to donate, Hilaria Asumu urges

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“There are a lot of people waiting for somebody to give them that second chance at life.”

During an interview with New Style Radio, Hilaria Asumu commented on the work she is undertaking to educate people on the realities of organ donation.

According to the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) most recent annual report, Black and Asian people account for 26% of individuals on the transplant waiting list, this is despite only representing around 10% of the population. In 2020/21, the proportion of ‘Black, Asian, Mixed Race, and minority ethnic’ patients getting organ transplants declined by 36%, compared to 22% for the overall population, while the family consent rates for organ donation are 36% for ‘BAME’ individuals and 75% for white eligible donors.

Hilaria discussed issues around scepticism that exists among Black communities in the UK. “We have faced a lot of issues with the system” she said. “Generally, one of the main reasons is distrust in the government.”

Hilaria became involved with the NHS organ donation campaign in 2018. She is a kidney transplant recipient herself and has been an avid campaigner ever since her transplant.

During the interview, she spoke candidly during about how a miscarriage in 2008 was followed by septicemia, multiple organ failure, and two cardiac arrests. She was in a coma for two weeks and when she awoke, her doctor informed her she had lost some kidney function and needed to go on dialysis, which she did for a brief time.

“It’s not something I’d wish on my worst enemy”, she remarked.

Shockingly, she found herself in the same situation only two years later. She experienced another miscarriage, suffered from septicemia and dealt with multiple organ failure, before going into a coma. Her lungs collapsed, and her husband was advised that she might not survive. Hilaria awoke from her coma but had to restart dialysis. All seven of her siblings, as well as her parents, offered to give her a kidney, but none of them was a match. Thankfully, Hilaria would find a match in the form of a long-time acquaintance.

“When I got the call in 2018 that they found a kidney for me I was filled with so much joy.”

She said it was especially remarkable as doctors had warned of difficulties in getting a transplant.

“Just being alive, breathing, living and seeing many people achieving milestones and goals which I thought I’d never be able to is a gift to me.”

She ended the interview by encouraging listeners to talk through their decision with their families.

“Have that talk with your family and leave them certain, so that on that day if you are not in a position to speak for yourself, they can speak for you. We have about 7,000 people right now waiting for somebody to give them that second chance of life.”

As of last year, the UK adopted an opt-out system for organ donation. Northern Ireland is the only exception currently, although a milestone legislation to change this has just passed its second reading in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

organdonation.nhs.uk/register-your-decision/

Mayowa Ayodele

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