Biology, ecology and biomedical science at Brighton

University of Brighton biosciences blog

Students wearing organ donor hoodies

Funding boost for student-led drive on minority ethnic organ donation

University of Brighton students are playing a key role in encouraging people from minority ethnic backgrounds to consider organ and blood donation.

The University of Brighton’s Donor Research Team has been awarded new funding as part of this year’s Community Investment Scheme led by NHS Blood and Transplant, which will receive £440,000 funding as part of the Government’s effort to tackle health inequalities in minority ethnic communities.

Last year, the team recruited first and second year students from diverse degrees and ethnic backgrounds to create a groundbreaking team of student ‘Champions’. They are supported by a team of academics, and organise events that promote awareness of blood and organ donation in the UK so that more people can register an informed choice.

Action is needed following new data showing the number of people waiting for lifesaving transplants is continuing to rise, with minority ethnic patients often waiting significantly longer for a successful match than white patients, due to a shortage of minority ethnic donors.  Transplants need to match donors and recipients by blood group and tissue type – and this is more likely between people from the same ethnic background.

The impact of the shortfall in minority ethnic donors is clear in the latest data from NHS Blood and Transplant. For example, of 5023 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, the latest figures show nearly a third – 1532 – were from minority ethnic backgrounds.

University of Brighton has also teamed up with artist Sarah Akinterinwa to create a selection of eye-catching comics that will help raise awareness and tell the story about blood and organ donation especially for minority ethnic groups. Sarah is a renowned editorial illustrator,  graphic designer and fine artist, including being a cartoonist for New Yorker Magazine.

Simonne Weeks, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science in the School of Applied Sciences at University of Brighton, and Project Lead for Donor Research, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded funding from the Community Investment Scheme to support our award-winning project to engage and empower our students.

“Here at the University of Brighton, we have thousands of students studying healthcare and scientific courses, many of whom are from minority ethnic communities themselves. Working with NHS Blood and Transplant, we’re raising awareness of these issues among our students, giving them the knowledge, skills and confidence to register an informed choice and encouraging them to share their choice with others.”

Umar Malik, Community Funding Partnerships Manager at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We’re delighted to welcome the University of Brighton to this year’s Community Investment Scheme. With their support we can empower more young people, particularly those from Black and Asian backgrounds, to drive meaningful, informed conversations around the power of donation, change attitudes and in doing so save lives.

To find out more, and register your decision, visit:

Blood Register information https://bit.ly/registerblooddonor

Organ Donor Register information https://bit.ly/registeryourchoice

Stephanie Thomson • July 13, 2022


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