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Two-year-old may wait longer for kidney transplant because he is Asian, data suggests

Two-year-old Harvey Kang is in desperate need of an organ donor after being born with kidney failure – but he may end up waiting longer for a transplant because he’s Asian.

This Organ Donation Week, which runs from 20 to 26 September, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is renewing its calls for people of this background to consider giving the gift of life.

Its figures show Asian adults wait around six months longer for a kidney than the white population.

The demand is greater as people of Asian backgrounds are more likely to develop other conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure, leaving them at greater risk of contracting a kidney-related issue.

The need for more Asian donors does not just apply to one particular organ though. It is across the board. And it is also evident throughout NHSBT’s latest annual report.

It shows, despite black and Asian people representing about 10% of the UK population, they are highly over-represented on the transplant waiting list, at 26%.

For Harvey’s mother, Karen Bahia, this is an added strain.

The 33-year-old from Coventry told the Sky News Daily podcast that “it’s quite stressful” because “you just don’t know how long you’re going to be waiting for”.

In the meantime, she has to spend every night watching her son undergo dialysis, a procedure aimed at removing waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys have very little or no function.

“It can be quite a struggle,” she said. “We get to do a lot of normal things but all these normal things are also around his dialysis.”

A successful transplant would put an end to this. As Karen explained, it “would enable him to have the life a toddler should be having”.

She said: “If Harvey was to receive a kidney it would change all of our lives hugely – especially Harvey’s. He’s going to be three in January and he’s not had the opportunity to live a real life.

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“Right now within the UK there are over 6,000 people waiting for an organ donation, over a quarter come from the black and Asian community. But we’re also the community at higher risk of needing a donation because we’re more vulnerable to getting conditions such as diabetes.

“So we’re the ones more likely to need a donation in the future but we’re also the ones who are least likely to donate.”

Earlier this month, it was announced that secondary schools in England will learn about blood, organ and stem cell donation after the topics were added to the national curriculum.

NHSBT said it hopes the new school lessons can help raise awareness among young people about donating and ultimately help save more lives.

People can become a blood donor and stem cell donor through NHSBT from the age of 17, if they meet certain criteria.

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