To coincide with Black History Month blood cancer charity ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) is launching a short film in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant entitled ‘My Black Skin’, to highlight the continued shortage of volunteer black and mixed race donors on the blood, stem cell (bone marrow) and organ donor registers.
‘My Black Skin’, a poem inspired by Black History Month, written by actor and writer Nicholas Pinnock (Channel 4 Top Boy, Sky One Fortitude), will launch on the 7thanniversary since ACLT’s inspirational spearhead Daniel De-Gale passed away. The film which is a talking heads style piece stars over 20 celebrities from the UK television and music industry including musicians such as Tinie Tempah, Beverley Knight, entrepreneur and Apprentice winner (Series 1) Tim Campbell, actors Jimmy Akingbola (BBC1 Holby City and US drama Arrow), Ashley Walters (Channel 4 Top Boy) and comedian Javone Prince (BBC1 Javone Prince Show, Channel 4 PhoneShop). Also featured are patients who have been supported by ACLT from diagnosis right through to receiving treatment.
Black people are currently under represented as blood donors, with less than 1%* of active donors coming from Black African, Black Caribbean or mixed race communities. There are currently more people living with Sickle Cell Disease than there are active black and mixed race donors.
There are also fewer black organ donors, as last year only 20** out of the 1,282 deceased donors in the UK were from the black community. In contrast there are currently around 600 black people waiting for an organ transplant with the vast majority of those in need of a donor kidney.
The need for more African or Caribbean people to join the stem cell register remains an important ask today as it did nearly 20 years ago when ACLT was founded. This is because around 70% of patients have to rely on a matched volunteer donor, identified through the Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry. People from black backgrounds are less likely to find a match than Caucasian patients.
Tim Campbell, Entrepreneur, BBC1 Apprentice winner, (Series 1) and ACLT Trustee said:
“My Black Skin is a thought provoking short film which I hope encourages those of African and Caribbean heritage to think about what it means to be black and how this relates to the importance of blood, stem cell and organ donor registers.
Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said:
The need for black blood, organ and stem cell donors can’t be emphasised enough and we are proud to be part of a campaign to reach out to black and mixed race communities. Patients do better when they get blood or organs from people of the same heritage. At the moment there are just too few black blood and organ donors.”
We want to encourage people from black and mixed race backgrounds to think about people within their own community who may need a donation of some kind to help save their life and to sign up to give blood or donate their organs after death.
The film ‘My Black Skin’, launched during Black History Month, is a great way to bring some high profile people together to help us to highlight that there are not enough donors amongst the black communities who would potentially be a better match for someone waiting.”
During the month long campaign, ACLT and NHS Blood and Transplant are encouraging black individuals to call NHS Blood and Transplant on 0300 123 23 23 to register to join the blood, stem cell and organ donor registers, quoting codes R20 when registering for blood donation and 2209 for organ donation.