09 NOV 2011

Organ Donation

Paul Uppal: It is an honour to serve under your stewardship, Mr Davies. We have half an hour in which to debate this issue, and I will try to be brief, because a number of hon. Members have told me that they may wish to intervene, and my hon. Friend Glyn Davies has said that he would like to speak in the debate. I have always found his contributions, whether here or in the House, valuable and I am sure that he will only enhance the debate, and give his personal perspective and the view from Wales.

Organ donation sounds far removed from most people's lives. They have never considered it, or believe that it is something to consider later in life or when they are in need. We all know people who are waiting for donations and people who have received them. Perhaps the thought makes us uncomfortable, because it forces us to confront the reality of life and death, but we must not ignore the fact that more than 7,500 people are on a waiting list for a donor organ. Whatever the reasons and whatever the causes, profound changes in medicine have provided the ability to save people from illnesses with donated organs, but we are still grappling with a shortage of donors.

Although there are people on waiting lists, things are getting better. Since 2007-08, there has been a 26% increase in the number of people who have agreed to be organ donors after their death, and today there are 18 million donors on the NHS organ donor register, but we must hope for more. With many groups that work tirelessly to ensure that one day the waiting list will be short, I want to raise awareness throughout the country, and to change people's perception so that being a registered donor will become the cultural norm.

I am here today because I do not believe that those improvements have gone far enough. I am worried that the target to increase the number of people who become organ donors after their death by 50% in 2012-13 will not be met unless the Government take urgent action. I am particularly worried that not enough progress has been made to increase organ donation in black and minority ethnic communities. People of black and minority ethnic origin are three to four times more likely to need an organ transplant, but are significantly under-represented on the NHS organ donor register. When asked, 75% of families of potential donors from BME communities refused to give consent for their loved one to become an organ donor. That must not continue. As a member of the BME community, as well as representing a seat with a large BME population, I know that we must continue to work hard to maintain a dialogue within those communities, and start to break down some of the stigma that organ donation may hold.

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