A living organ donation and transplantation conference was held at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Leicester, on Saturday 24 November 2018. The conference, in partnership with NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT), brought together kidney transplant patients and their families, medical experts, local transplant teams and important members of organisations, such as South Asian Health Action and NBTA (National BAME Transplant Alliance), to raise awareness about living kidney donation among Hindus and to provide practical guidance on improving living organ donation rates in the Hindu community.
Kirit Modi, Honorary President of the NBTA and a kidney recipient, emphasised the urgent need to raise awareness of living kidney donation. He explained how Hindu communities could avail of the growing number of resources to improve education and awareness. 
Dr Sunil Daga, a consultant nephrologist and transplant physician, provided a thorough explanation of kidney function as well as the stages and causes of kidney disease and the connotations of renal replacement therapy. In addition, Mr Atul Bagul, Consultant Transplant and Endocrine Surgeon, explained the process of transplantation and the benefits of living organ transplantation as opposed to dialysis and transplantation after death.
Sanjiv Patel, 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.
Inspiring testimonies from kidney patients were also shared at the conference. Paulo Calane, a kidney disease patient from a very young age, talked about his childhood experiences and challenges. Anju Chhatrisha donated her kidney to her husband, Lalit, after he was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure. Their bravery encouraged many of the attendees to help others who are experiencing similar difficulties.
The session concluded with questions from the audience which stimulated important discussions regarding the safety of living organ donation for both donor and recipient, the effects on young women of childbearing age, and the new legislation regarding opting out of organ donation.
Dr Paras Patel, a BAPS volunteer, said, “It is very encouraging to see members of the community attend and increase their awareness about living organ donation within Hindu communities. Observing the resolve of people to share this understanding has the potential to save so many lives.”
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. A similar conference was held in London last year and recently in Birmingham.
BAPS has also produced a special 15-minute educational documentary about living organ donation for the Hindu community, which can be viewed online here.
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