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Community Ambassador calls for more people to give 'the gift of life' by signing the Organ Donor Register

Published 12/07/2016
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In 2011 Abdul Hafeez Raja was given a fresh start. 

After five years of receiving dialysis following kidney failure, he received a new kidney – and a new lease of life.

Abdul, 58, was one of the lucky ones. He was one of the small number of people for whom a correct match was found. For many people, that is not the case – but Abdul’s daughter Rozi is now working to change that.

Rozi, 29, has become a Community Ambassador for Derby Teaching Hospitals Organ Donation Committee, with the aim of increasing the number of people from ethnic minority communities to sign up to the organ donor register.

She said: “As a family we are so grateful for the transplant my father received. It’s given him a new life. He will always have health complications, but he is no longer missing out on life. Anyone who has not considered signing the organ donor register should go and see the dialysis unit. What you see there will be enough to convince you to think about it.”

Abdul was born with sickle cell disease, a condition which affects the body’s red blood cells. The disease caused him to suffer kidney failure 10 years ago, and left him in need of gruelling dialysis sessions three times a week. The process, which removes waste and excess fluid from the kidneys, left Abdul weak and exhausted. It also severely restricted his life, as he had to visit the Royal Derby Hospital for four-hour dialysis sessions at the same time every week.

As a result of his treatment, he was unable to attend his daughter’s wedding, and was forced to fly to Pakistan and back for his mother’s funeral in less than 48 hours, so he did not miss the next vital treatment at the Royal Derby Hospital Renal Unit. 

Rozi, who lives in Littleover, said: “Being on dialysis dramatically reduces your quality of life. When my father was not receiving dialysis, he was unwell as a result of his condition, and dreading the next session. He missed out on life. It affected the whole family.”

It was late at night when Abdul received the call to say a match had been found for his kidney. Within eight hours, he was undergoing surgery. Rozi and her family spent all night praying that the operation would be successful. Five years on, he has started to experience problems, but with the help of extra treatment, he is able to live a largely normal life in a way he never dreamed of while he was receiving dialysis.

Unusually, Abdul’s kidney was from a person of Caucasian origin. Often, organs can only be matched if the donor is from within the same ethnic group. In the Asian community, where fewer people sign up to the organ donor register, this sadly means that fewer matches are found.

That is why Rozi has become a Community Ambassador, and she is now working to encourage people from the Asian community to sign the Organ Donor Register.

She said: “By signing the organ donor register, you could give the gift of life. If you would be willing to take an organ if you needed one, you should be willing to give one if you are ever in a position to do so. We’re so, so grateful for the gift of life which my father was given. I want to do anything I can to help other people in the same situation.”

Abdul will be speaking at a community event taking place at the Pakistani Centre in Hartington Street, Derby, on Monday, 25 July, in the hope of encouraging more people from Muslim communities to consider signing the Organ Donor Register.  The event will run from 11am until 4pm.

Kirit Mistry, Community Link for Organ Donation for Derby Hospitals Organ Donation Committee, said: “Statistics show that people from Asian backgrounds are more likely to need a transplant, and yet very few people from these communities are signed up to the organ donor register. Many people from the Asian community think they are prohibited from doing so by their religion, but that is not the case. We’re aiming to dispel some of the myths around that and encourage more people to sign up to the register.”

Last Modified 12/07/2016