We interviewed Dr Agimol Pradeep who is currently working as a Transplant Coordinator at Kings College Hospital NHS Trust. However, it was during her nursing career that Dr Pradeep’s interest in organ donation was ignited, inspiring her to do a PhD on organ donation in the South Asian community.
How would you describe your role in the organ donation pathway?
Dr Pradeep works as a recipient coordinator, meaning her role includes providing care for patients that receive donated organs or are on the waiting list. It is essential to ensure the patient is emotionally, physically and mentally ready for receiving the transplant, should one become available. Dr Pradeep’s passion is all about promoting organ donation and therefore she also gets involved in community campaigns to raise awareness about organ donation and debunk common myths.
Dr Pradeep worked in the renal unit in Manchester hospital for 15 years, working as a kidney transplant recipient coordinator. During this role, she had a challenging experience involving a South Asian patient, who had been on the kidney transplant waiting list 5+ years, asking whether there was discrimination in the process of organ allocation due to patients of a white background receiving transplants quicker, sometimes in as little as a couple of months. Despite knowing that the NHS would not discriminate against a patient due to their ethnic background, Dr Pradeep felt as though she didn’t have enough knowledge to give the patient the full answer about the rational behind the longer waiting time. When asking Senior Managers, Clinical Directors and Biomedical Scientists who perform the tissue typing, Dr Pradeep learned about the importance of a tissue type match for the best chance of a successful organ transplant. Evidence suggests that donors from the same ethnic background as the recipient are more likely to have a better match and therefore a more successful transplant.This means the longer waiting time for the patient was due to a lack of representation of their ethnicity on the donor list. Out of 3963 white patients on a waiting list for transplantation, 45% had received a transplant after a year, compared to 27% of 1077 BAME patients (NHS Blood and Transplant data 2020/2021).
It came to Dr Pradeep’s attention that if she had been working in this area for such a long time and had only now learned this, then many people and patients probably wouldn’t know the importance of having more organ donors from ethnic minorities. It was at this point that Dr Pradeep began community campaigns to spread awareness and the knowledge about the importance of more ethnic minority donors.
How could you summarise the reasons for the low organ donation amongst the south Asian population?
The main barrier, according to Dr Pradeep is lack of awareness and information. Other barriers include religious barriers, and myths surrounding organ donation. There are many myths, especially in ethnic minority communities, this can be due to past experiences, or where they are from where there may be organ trafficking and similar issues. Dr Pradeep has witnessed a shift in attitudes amongst people in her community after spreading awareness about organ donation and working together in order to break these barriers down using facts and figures. For example, someone thought that they wouldn’t be able to have an open casket funeral if they donate their corneas due to the visual appearance of the face and eyes after the operation, however after taking the time to provide clarification and reassurance and obtaining the trust of the community, Dr Pradeep was able to educate that an open casket funeral is still very much possible for an organ donor.
What is one thing you wish that everyone knew about organ donation?
It is a gift of life. Being an organ donor is a selfless act anyone can do, it is all done ethically, respecting faith, religious instruction, personal and family wishes. It is not something anyone can force you to do, and every individual can decide yes or no to being an organ donor however it is important to understand the bigger picture and the facts before making an informed choice. Dr Pradeep sees first hand the life changing effects an organ donation can have on the recipient and the positive effects it has on their quality of life. Register an informed choice today https://bit.ly/registeryourchoice