Inspiring Others through Organ Donation- Prafula Shah
- Aastha K Singhania

  • Thu,18 Jul 2019 02:46:41 PM

London, July 18 (BAN): A great way of living is to be of service to anybody who needs you. In the Jain and Hindu communities, we find lots of ways to do sewa and feel great by helping others. Some people also believe that our bodies should be intact while being cremated following its demise. It is perhaps for this reason that there is a shortage of organ donors across the Asian communities and some people have died waiting for another chance to live their life to the fullest. 

Prafula Shah, a business woman who has worked as a Change Communications Consultant for many years, did not hesitate once she found out that her niece, Shakti Shah, needed a kidney transplant. 25 year old Shakti has had a kidney condition from birth and in September 2017, her health deteriorated drastically with her kidney function dropping dramatically. They always knew she would need intervention but they did not know when this could happen. Shakti completed her studies with a degree in Politics from York University and a Masters from King’s College, London and got herself a good job.

Once the testing process started, unfortunately no suitable match was found in the family for Shakti to have a kidney transplant. But, that was not a deterrent for Prafula, who stepped up to offer her kidney through the National Living Donor Kidney Sharing Scheme (NLDKSS). The Scheme operates across the UK, where someone comes forward to donate for you. Prafula realized that it would be a challenge for Shakti to get a kidney match within the community and by sharing her kidney this would increase her niece’s chances and so immediately registered herself as a living donor.

This is usually called a ‘paired donation’ where kidneys are swapped between one incompatible donor and recipient and another mismatched pair. Kidney sharing scheme runs their database four times a year and is kept completely anonymous. Lots of tests are done on the potential donor to make sure that they are fit and healthy to donate – having passed these tests Shakti and Prafula were entered into the database in January 2018. Very lucky for Shakti, a match was found in the first round and someone also needed Prafula’s kidney. Surgery dates were set during March 2018 with different centres across the UK for the six people in the chain and Shakti and Prafula’s four -hour long procedure happened just metres away on the same day at Royal Free Hospital, London and others took place at centres around the UK on the same day. Today, both Prafula and Shakti are living a healthy, happy life.

Commenting on the donation, Prafula said, “I feel very fortunate that I could help my niece in this way and it has definitely made a big difference to Shakti’s life – so why not?

The waiting list is longer for Asians due to our ethnicity, tissue matching is a challenge and lack of donors coming forward. Prafula continues. It is a significant challenge that we, as a community, need to overcome. 

Around one-third of people on the current waiting lists come from the Asian and Black Minority Ethnic communities.

“The forthcoming change in the law in England will hopefully help this situation. Deemed Consent or Max &and Keira’s Law will be in place from Spring 2020 and I urge everyone to come forward and register their organ donation decision now – organ donation saves lives.”

Prafula is a An NHS Blood & Transplant Ambassador, Prafula is also and also a part of Jain and Hindu Organ Donation Steering Committee (JHOD) and promotes organ donation in different ways at many events, encouraging more people to learn about living donation and join the register from our communities.

The lower levels of support and shortage of organ donors from these communities matters because 35% of patients waiting for a kidney are from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Although many black, Asian and ethnic minority patients are able to receive a transplant from a white donor, patients wait longer for an organ and others may die if there is no donor from their own community.

More donors from black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic groups are urgently needed to address an increase in patients from the same communities dying whilst waiting for an organ transplant.

One in five people who died on the Transplant Waiting List in 2017/18 was from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background (source NHS)

On 10 July 2019 JHOD launched a campaign at the House of Commons in Parliament which raised awareness of the new law and features new resources to help people make decisions and get inspired to donate organs of their loved ones.

Rt Hon Matt Hancock said, “This campaign is a brilliant example of the community-based work that is vital to raising awareness and understanding around organ donation.”

With her surgery, Shakti got a new lease of life and Prafula bounced back to normality within weeks. We can live a healthy and happy life on one kidney and Prafula is a living example of it. You can follow her story at this link below:


Organ donation event at Oshwal Association Health Fair June 2019
Shakti and Prafula Shah
London Mayor's Office City Hall.  Organ donation event March 2019
Organ donation awareness event at Jain Centre Leicester November 2018
Celebration of organ donors in the BAME community - City Hall January 2019
Organ donation awareness event at Navnat Vanik Association event September 2018
Jain and Hindu Organ Donation event at House of Commons  10 July 2019
Jain and Hindu Organ Donation Steering Committee 10 July 2019

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