A living organ donation and transplantation conference was held at the Robin Hood Academy, Birmingham, on Sunday 16 September 2018. The conference, in partnership with NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT), brought together kidney transplant patients and their families, medical experts, local transplant teams and Hindu religious leaders to raise awareness about living kidney donation among Hindus and to provide practical guidance on improving living organ donation rates in the Hindu community.
Paras Joshee, a member of the local Hindu community, spoke of his difficulties during an intensive dialysis programme after his kidneys failed at the age of 21. His sister, Mona, donated one of her kidneys to save him from a lifetime of dialysis. She added, “By engaging with my family and demystifying some of the myths, we worked together to transform his life. I have not had a second thought about making the decision to donate to him.”
Kirit Modi, Honorary President of the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA) and a kidney recipient, talked about the great need to raise awareness of living kidney donation. Mr Majid Mukadam, Lead Retrieval and Transplant Surgeon, and Surinder Jandu, Senior Complex Transplant Co-coordinator from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, explained the advantages of living transplants versus transplants after death, and the process of donation. A panel of experts addressed common concerns over safety and described the comprehensive pre-requisite medical checks for prospective donors.
Bipin Shingadia, a lead volunteer from BAPS, referred to Hindu scriptures to highlight that organ donation is a form of ‘daan’ and ‘seva’ (selfless charity and service), and should be considered by all Hindus.
Over 130 delegates between 26 to 77 years of age attended the conference – the majority from Birmingham and of Asian Indian ethnicity. The feedback received from respondents was very positive. Most of these attendees now felt confident about raising the topic of living organ donation with friends and family and would consider donating after this event.
A member of the local Hindu community said: “This informative seminar will help foster open discussions with my family members sooner rather than later.” Various other attendees offered positive impressions from the event, saying that such events “should be held at every temple” and “at every Hindu/Asian centre”.
Dr Markand Patel, a BAPS volunteer, added, “It is great to see community events like this to initiate discussions about living organ donation within Hindu families. We’re delighted that many members of the community attended and are better informed on becoming a living organ donor.”
BAPS has been campaigning to raise awareness about organ donation through a series of events since 2011. The latest campaign, launched in October 2017
with the blessings of Mahant Swami Maharaj, specifically aims to raise awareness about living organ donation among Hindus, addressing the anxiety and hesitation that exists about discussing this as an alternative to dialysis.
For further information about BAPS’s organ donation drive in the UK as well as links to an information leaflet and inspirational video about living organ donation, please visit http://londonmandir.baps.org/forthcoming-events/living-organ-donation/