The family of a three-year-old Aari Patel, who saved two lives after becoming an organ donor, have urged for more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to support donation
Jay and Sina Patel, parents of little Aari who tragically died after an accident at home, volunteered their son as a donor where his organs were used to help a boy and a girl in desperate need of transplants.
Mr and Mrs Patel have pledged their support to a Government campaign in England to address the urgent need for donors.
Concerns have been raised over "a lack of BAME representation" in the donor register as an increasing number of patients are dying while waiting for new organs. Organ and tissue types need to be closely matched between organ donors and recipients, blood and tissue types differ across ethnic groups.
Mr Patel, from south London, has called for an end to "misunderstandings and myths" and urged for greater support of donors in BAME communities.
He said: "If Aari couldn’t be helped any further, Sina and I felt strongly that we wanted Aari to help others. We did not want another family to suffer losing their child or loved one.
"Aari was our little hero. He had a smile that would melt any heart. He genuinely was a kind hearted and generous little man. He is and will always remain one of the kindest and loving little boys we have ever known."
Mr Patel continued: "As parents we are proud of Aari, we never tire of talking about him and there is a star in the sky that will always remain our brightest star.
"I am convinced that of all the amazing traits that Aari had – such as kindness, loving heart and caring nature – that these with his organs live on with those recipients, so in heart and soul he continues to live on.
"Too many people say no to donation because they think their faith prevents it. There are myths and misunderstandings. We must talk more about the subject with those we love, family and friends, young and old.
"If more people in our communities supported organ donation, more lives in our communities would be saved."
A NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) report has revealed the stark reality of the low number of ethnic minority donors relative to the British population.
A staggering 21% of people who died on the waiting list last year were from BAME backgrounds, compared with 15% a decade ago.
People from BAME communities make up 11% of the British population, 35% of people currently on the kidney transplant register hail from these backgrounds. Only 7% of deceased UK organ donors are from ethnic minority groups.
Whilst NHSBT revealed the number of donors is rising, it says family refusal continues to be the biggest obstacle to organ donation from BAME backgrounds. The public body added that around half as many families support organ donation compared with families from a white background.
Absolute pleasure to meet Jay Patel on @SkyNews and hear the extraordinary work he and his wife Sina are doing to raise awareness of organ donation among BAME communities. Their little boy Aari - what a star. Please read his story. pic.twitter.com/IpW1X8fEs4— Emma Crosby (@emmaccrosby) July 18, 2018
Anthony Clarkson from NHSBT said: "While it is encouraging that more black, Asian and ethnic minority families are supporting donation - making more lifesaving transplants possible - change is not happening fast enough and too many lives are being lost.
"Although many black, Asian and ethnic minority patients are able to receive a transplant from a white donor, others may die if there is no donor from their own community.
"We are asking more people from these communities to talk about organ donation and share their donation decision with their families. Words save lives."
For more information and to find confidential support on becoming a living organ donor, visit Counselling Directory.
You can find out more about becoming a donor by visiting the NHSBT website.