The first UK Black living kidney appreciation event

In May over 150 African and Caribbean living kidney donors gathered with their recipients in London to be honoured and recognised for their acts of selflessness and bravery.

The first of its kind in the UK, the event was hosted by Gift of Living Donation (GOLD), and marked the launch of ‘Because of You’, a celebration to appreciate African and Caribbean living kidney donors in the UK.

In attendance was the Camden Mayor Maryam Elamdoust, who said

“As someone from an ethnic minority background it was an honour and a privilege to be invited to open and speak at such an important event that celebrates the gift of life through living donation.”

Dela Idowu, Founder of GOLD, said that the celebration gave living donors and their loved ones the space to share their inspirational stories with others in a positive and relaxed surrounding. She added their reminiscences stories were full of love and compassion.

Many of the donors commented that the event was inspiring, thought provoking and long overdue.

Jacqui Govere said:

“It was such an amazing event! I didn’t realise there were so many Black living kidney donors.

I’m sure with more publicity there will definitely be more of us wanting to become donors. Listening to donor stories was really emotional and heart warming and I made some new friends.”

Harley Armstrong, who attended the event with her father, a dialysis patient at Guy’s Hospital, commented that speaking with other donors had encouraged her, as she had come forward as a donor for her dad.

The lunch was also attended by Shaun Wallace of The Chase TV quiz show and distinguished poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. Both commented that they were really humbled by the donor stories and were delighted to be part of such an important and laudable occasion.

Also present were Orin Lewis, co-founder of the Afro-Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, and Kirit Mistry, Co-Chair of NBTA (National Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Transplant Alliance). Both consider that it is now time for organisations to work together to bring the voices of the donors to a wider audience to encourage more people from the Black and South Asian communities to come forward as donors.

Lisa Burnapp, NHS Blood and Transplant Lead Nurse for Kidney Donation, concluded: “Gift of Living Donation hosted a truly wonderful event that for the first time in the UK brought together Afro-Caribbean living kidney donors. Their stories were inspiring and as a healthcare professional it highlighted the true heroes of their work.”