Temple in Leicester tackles organ donation shortages in ethnic minority groups

By Perry Johnson

The life-threatening issue of organ donation shortages among those of an ethnic minority background is being tackled by Vanik Council UK, whose seminar in Leicester last year saw more than 30 people register as a donor.

The free event, which focused on kidney disease prevention and treatment, delivered talks from various medical professionals and patients to about 150 people.

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The audience at the Jain Centre seminar in Oxford Street

The seminar was held in the city on Sunday, March 17, inside Britain’s first consecrated Jainism temple, The Jain Centre, and was organised by Vanik Council, an umbrella group established in 1978 for local Jain and Hindu associations across the UK.

Manhar Mehta, Chairman of the Vanik Council, said: “We regularly organise health awareness events around the country for members of our affiliated associations to relieve sickness and promote and preserve good health.

“The main aim of the seminars held in Leicester, and eight other venues across the country over the last two years, was to raise awareness within the Jain community for the need of donating organs to save lives.”

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From left: Mr Maunesh Shah, Mr Manhar Mehta, Mr Vaghji Shah and Mr Vijay Sheth

Research issued by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) last year indicated that whilst 1 in 5 of those on the Transplant Waiting List were from an ethnic minority background, there had only been 114 donations from these groups that year.

The Vanik Council joined the NHSBT’s Live Transplant Initiative campaign in 2017 and has seen more than 170 people show interest in live organ donation as a result of this and five other events.

Mr Mehta said: “Jainism teaches its followers to be helpful to others and save others’ lives; through this event people have gained knowledge on a subject for which they had not paid attention in the past.”

The group is currently working alongside the recently established Jain and Hindu Organ Donation Group (JHOD) in order to tackle the acute need for both live and after-death organ donations within their communities.

For more information on organ donation or to register as a donor visit:  https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/.

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