South Asian people across Greater Manchester are being urged to help save lives by adding their name to the Organ Donor Register.
Asians currently have to wait three times longer than white people for a kidney transplant because of a lack of suitable donors.
In an attempt to tackle this problem the British Renal Society awarded £45,000 to a transplant coordinator for research aimed at boosting numbers.
PhD student Agimol Pradeep said: “I’m passionate about this study because I’ve treated many kidney failure patients who count down every day with tears and anxiety as they wait for a donor.”
“I’ve been challenged a number of times by patients questioning the waiting game, behind the transplant.
“They presume the white population has precedence over Asian and other ethnic minority groups.
“It’s not an easy task to explain organ matching and the scarcity of donors from Asian backgrounds.”
Currently, 16.9% of people on the waiting list at Manchester Royal Infirmary’s Renal Transplant Unit are from an Asian background, but only 1.7% of donors between 2005 and 2010 were Asian.
National figures show that people from the Asian community are three times more likely to require an organ transplant than the general population, but only 2% of Asian people are on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
One reason for this is that Type 2 Diabetes, a major case of renal failure, is up to six times more widespread among Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities.
Ms Pradeep’s research will explore Asian people’s reluctance to become organ donors and encourage them to register as donors.
This is likely to re-ignite the ongoing debate in the UK about whether voluntary donor registration should be replaced with an opt-out scheme.
The opt-out schemes, which are in place in a number of European countries, mean it is lawful to take the kidneys from any adult who has just died, unless that person had expressly forbidden it while they were alive.
Ms Pradeep added: “Our survey results so far are promising. About 400 people responded with 60% of respondents definitely supporting an opt-out scheme.
“Only 17% said no and the rest were not sure.”
She added: “Before we perform a live donation the donor has to go through a detailed medical check-up and review so the risk is very minimal.”
She will work closely with community and religious leaders, GPs and local hospitals to encourage organ donation among Asian people.
Titus Augustine, Clinical Director of Transplantation at Manchester Royal Infirmary and Paula Ormandy, Senior Lecturer at the University’s School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work will supervise the study.
Dr Ormandy said: “The lack of Asian organ donors is an issue that must be tackled urgently, and the award from the British Renal Society is a real vote of confidence that Agimol’s work is of national importance.”