Sikh Community Promotes Awareness About Organ Donation At Diwali Events


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
ONDON: Sikh faith leaders from several parts of the UK's are lending their support to promote awareness concerning organ donation at Diwali (Bandi Chor) events.

The Department of Health’s Organ Donation Taskforce Campaign has received backing from Sikh leaders, who recognise that more South Asian organ donors are needed to increase the number of life-saving transplants for people from their community.

By enlisting the support of Sikh faith leaders, the campaign seeks to dispel common myths that are known to affect donation rates, such as assumed religious objections. In fact, none of the major faiths practised in the UK forbid donation.

Dr Indarjit Singh, Director from the Network of Sikh Organisations, stressed the importance of giving and putting others before oneself as being at the heart of Sikh philosophy and teachings. He said: “Saving a human life is one of the greatest things one can do so for this reason, donating organs after death is acceptable to Sikhs. Sikhs would recognise this altruistic act of organ donation at the time of Diwali (Bandi Chor) when Guru Hargobind dramatically demonstrated the importance of concern for others”.

Research highlights that South Asian people are three times more likely to need a kidney transplant than the general population. Almost 1,800 need a transplant, and their chances of success are greater if they can be matched with a donor from the same ethnic origin.

But with South Asian people accounting for fewer than 2% of deceased donors, transplant patients from these communities typically wait twice as long as others for a suitable donor to become available. Last year, almost 60 black and Asian patients died while waiting.

The Department of Health’s National Clinical Director of Transplantation, Dr Chris Rudge, said: “There is a shortage of organ donors of all ethnic backgrounds, but the problem is particularly acute among the black and south Asian communities. I am delighted that the Sikh community is promoting awareness about organ donation throughout the UK.

“By working in partnership with faith leaders across major religions we are looking to explain to people that organ donation is something they can and should think about. After they have discussed it with family and friends, we would encourage them to take that next step and join the NHS Organ Donor Register.”

Professor Gurch Randhawa from the University of Bedfordshire, a member of the Organ Donation Taskforce, said: "People often find organ donation a difficult subject to raise with their family and friends and some are unsure of the stance which their religion takes on the issue. This public support from faith leaders gives them clear guidance to help their decision about organ donation.