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Virtual art exhibition on living kidney donation among ethnic minority groups to ‘transform’ knowledge around the subject

An innovative virtual art project aimed at increasing awareness about living kidney donation among ethnic minority groups is now available online to the public.

Produced by the Centre of Ethnic Health Research (CEHR) and the NIHR ARC East Midlands, the virtual exhibition portrays people’s personal stories and experiences of living kidney donation through a variety of art, such as paintings, drawings, and poems.

Entitled ‘The Gift’, the 3D virtual display includes information on kidney disease and kidney donation.

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

Prior studies have found 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.

University of Leicester Research Fellow, Dr Thomas Wilkinson, who is leading the project, said: “We believe that the online art exhibition will educate and inspire people on living kidney donation, especially those from ethnic minority communities.”

“We are indebted to all those who came forward with powerful stories of their personal journeys of living with kidney disease and the effect kidney transplantation has had on their, and their loved ones, lives”

Bharat Patel has shared his story in the online art exhibition after his wife, Avril Patel, donated her kidney to him. The 65-year-old was on the organ donor waiting list for seven years and describes his life during this time as “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.”   

Statistics show that Leicester has one of the largest kidney services in the UK, with approximately 100 kidney transplants taking place in the city each year – a third of which come from living donors.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti CBE, who is the Director of the NIHR ARC East Midlands and is also Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “Whilst we are aware from national and clinical data that kidney disease disproportionality affects a range of ethnic communities, this exhibition is available to everyone, regardless of their specific ethnic group.

“The innovative, 3D virtual art display is now live, and we are encouraging the public to get behind our new project so that we can develop their understanding on living kidney donation.”

To access the virtual living kidney donation art exhibition, please click here.

Published on: 12 Jan 2023