On Monday, 27 March 2023, a capacity audience attended the 'All-Party Ethnicity, Transplantation and Transfusion Group' launch event, held at the parliamentary venue – Portcullis House, Westminster. This focused on how the lack of donor participation adversely affects people from African, Caribbean and Asian backgrounds. It also raised awareness of health inequalities faced by these groups and advocated for equitable access to treatment for individuals in these communities.
Sarah Olney MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethnicity Transplantation and Transfusion, presided over this inaugural event. British Union Conference (BUC) Health Ministries Director Sharon Platt-McDonald was one of the invitees, representing the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its involvement in bringing awareness of organ donation to diverse community groups highlighting faith and cultural implications.
An Adventist member was at the heart of pioneering UK work on organ donation. Cynthia Davis from the Peckham Adventist church, a registered nurse specialising in nephrology, was a leading member of the African Caribbean Organ Donation Awareness Programme (ACODAP) headed by Gurch Randhawa PhD, Professor of Diversity in Public Health & Director of health research at the University of Bedfordshire. Davis was instrumental in bringing awareness to churches about kidney disease and the ethnicity and faith barriers that negatively impacted people from African, Asian and Caribbean backgrounds in timely access to services and subsequent life-saving treatment.
At the inaugural launch last month, the work of ACODAP was praised for its groundbreaking research and essential data its pilot project produced to inform interventions for progressive work.
In 2007 BUC Director Sharon Platt-McDonald was invited to join the Organ Donation Taskforce. This sought to identify specific barriers todonation and transplantation and recommend solutions within existing operational and legal frameworks in England. Platt-McDonald spearheaded work with faith groups to ascertain their religious beliefs and cultural practices and how these impacted health choices and engagement with the medical establishment.
Frequent questions that surfaced, especially in faith groups, centred around the ethics of organ donation and spiritual implications. Platt-McDonald highlighted that organ donation was a concept that happened at the creation of humans. She said that the first organ donation was undertaken at the creation of humankind with a transplant when God took a rib from Adam's side and created Eve. He then donated His breath to infuse life into male and female.
In 2011, Professor Gurch Randhawa asked Platt-McDonald to be a member of the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA). The NBTA is the coordinating voice for BAME (Black, Asian, Mixed Race (Dual Heritage) and Minority Ethnic) transplant donation. It seeks to promote awareness of organ and stem cell donation. For more information, visit: https://www.nbta-uk.org.uk/
Advising on organ donation, faith and cultural perspectives at national events, Platt-McDonald has contributed to many NHS publications, including the NBTA publication on Christianity and Organ Donation:
which was launched at the Organ Donation Summit in 2011.
The progressive work of the NBTA has been highlighted in some Parliamentary events, including the recent All-Party Parliamentary inaugural launch event last month, where the NBTA was identified as a leading group on faith and cultural sensitivity impacting the wellbeing of diverse people groups in the UK.
Edith Samambwa – South England Conference Health Ministries Director, is continuing the work of including faith groups and cultural perspectives in research and projects around organ donation. Working with NHS agencies developing interventions on Living Kidney Donations, Samambwa is currently working with the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust on projects engaging BAME groups.
A report on Edith's work was published in a BUC News article earlier this month:
Please pray for the work of our Health Ministries departments at the Union, Conferences and Missions as we engage with Government agencies to inform on aspects of faith and culture that impact individuals' wellbeing.