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Kidney transplant survivor backs living donation project by sharing his ‘life-saving’ journey

A Leicester man who was given a “new lease of life” after his wife donated her kidney to him is encouraging people to join the organ donor register ahead of World Kidney Day.

Bharat Patel says he was born again after his wife Avril Patel bravely participated in an act of unselfishness and sheer kindness when she underwent surgery to give him “the ultimate gift of life”.

The 65-year-old was on the organ donor waiting list for seven years and says during this time he was living like a dead person as his life was “non-existent”.

Mr Patel said: “I’m lost for words for how thankful I am to my wife who displayed sheer bravery, heroism and gave me the ultimate gift of life that can be given to any human being.

“Since having the transplant I have been given a new lease of life and I am now encouraging families to consider joining the organ donor register, especially ethnic minority communities who have a lack of knowledge and understanding around living organ donations. 

Mr Patel is now supporting a new virtual art exhibition which is set to increase awareness about living kidney donation amongst ethnic minority groups.

Produced by the Centre of Ethnic Health Research (CEHR) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East Midlands, the online display will portray people’s personal stories and experiences of living kidney donation through a variety of art, such as paintings, poems and drawings.

Funded by the NHS Blood and Transplant Community Investment Scheme, the 3D virtual project will primarily target South Asian, African and African Caribbean communities, of which have higher rates of kidney disease, and often need to wait longer for a kidney transplant.

Previous research has shown that ethnic minority groups may lack knowledge around the organ donation process, particularly in relation to their religion or cultural beliefs, causing them to be more hesitant about organ transplants.

Also supporting the innovative art exhibition is 64-year-old Harish Joshi, who has been on the organ donor waiting list for the last six months.

Mr Joshi says he is hoping that a matching kidney becomes available soon as he cannot wait to get his life back.

He said: “Once I have the transplant, I will be a free man again. My life will be handed back to me, and I will no longer have to rely on machines to survive. I believe that the best thing in life is to become an organ donor as you will save somebody’s life.”

Research Fellow, Dr Thomas Wilkinson, who is leading the project, said: “We know that health literacy is a significant barrier in ethnic minority groups in accessing quality healthcare and in the engagement of health promotion initiatives.

“We believe that our innovative, virtual 3D art exhibition will greatly help people of all abilities to engage with the project and develop an understanding for living kidney donation.”

He added: “Ahead of World Kidney Day, we are extremely interested in hearing from those who may have had a kidney transplant or those who have donated a kidney to come forward and share their stories.”

To get involved, more information on the project can be found at:

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Director of NIHR ARC East Midlands and the Centre for Ethnic Health Research, said: “Unfortunately there is a stark imbalance between the numbers of black, Asian and minority ethnic people donating and those patients in need of a lifesaving transplant. Recent figures from the NHS Blood and Transplant show that people from these communities represented 7% of all deceased donors compared with 32% of those on the transplant waiting list. We need to do more to raise awareness about kidney donation especially from ethnic minority populations, which is why this project is so important.”

Taking place on Thursday, March 10, 2022, World Kidney Day is a global health awareness campaign focusing on the importance of the kidneys and reducing the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.

To find out more about Living Kidney Donation, please click here:

Published on: 8 Mar 2022