A special message on organ donation is being sent by representatives of the Hindu and Jain communities and patients during this year’s Diwali festival. 

In 2018/19, there were 149 Asian organ donors in the UK; 83 were living kidney donors and there were more Asian deceased donors than ever before, with 56 people giving the gift of life after death. 

But there were still 1006 people from Asian backgrounds waiting for an organ transplant. This shows the urgent need for more Asian organ donors.

Most Asian patients receive transplants from white donors, but in reality, for many the best blood and tissue match would come from a donor of the same ethnic background, meaning a better outcome for the patient. 

Kirit Modi, Chair of the Jain and Hindu organ donation (JHOD) steering group said: “I am delighted that Hindu and Jain community leaders, donor families and patients are sending powerful messages about organ donation this Diwali.

"We are also launching a Diwali video which consists of an amazing story from Shivum and Shyamal Kakkad about their father recently donating his organs when he passed away. I urge everyone celebrating Diwali this year to think about organ donation and help save lives.”

Millie Banerjee, Chair of NHS Blood and Transplant said: “Diwali is a time of kindness and reflection where we acknowledge the good deeds done for others. Hindus believe in sewa – selfless service – and what better selfless service than donating your organs after death to someone in need of a transplant?

"Every day across the UK someone dies waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant and people from BAME backgrounds wait longer than white patients for a kidney transplant, the most transplanted organ. Often the best match comes from a person of the same ethnicity so I would encourage everyone this Diwali to consider organ donation and speak to their families about their decision to be a donor.” 

While being an organ donor is down to individual choice, it is concerning that the majority of people who have recorded an ‘opt out’ decision are BAME.

Given that the best transplant outcome is often from being matched with someone of the same ethnic origin, this could further impact patents in need of organ transplants from their community.

Many have voiced concerns over the process itself, or whether their faith or beliefs will be respected, so NHS Blood and Transplant is encouraging people to find out more about the organ donation process and about the position of their faith or belief system on organ donation.

Lord Jitesh Gadhia said, “Diwali is a time to celebrate the victory of good over evil and the rise of a new dawn. This year also marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. His commitment to humanity is encapsulated by two powerful quotes: ‘To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer’ and ‘There are two days in the year that we cannot do anything – yesterday and tomorrow.’ So, this Diwali, I would urge everyone to follow Gandhiji’s inspirational words and sign up today to organ donation and give the ultimate gift of life.”

From spring 2020 in England and Autumn 2020 in Scotland, everyone will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.

This system was introduced in Wales in December 2015 and in Jersey in July this year.

Families will still always be involved in organ donation, so it is vital that they know what your choice is. Anyone who has also registered as an organ donor and made it clear that their faith must be considered as part of the organ donation process will have that decision honoured. 

In the lead up to the change in law, NHS Blood and Transplant is urging families across England to talk and share their decision. If the time comes, families find the organ donation conversation much easier if they already know what their relative wanted.

Hindu and Jain communities are actively involved in explaining the change in law and have developed special videos and leaflets aimed at their communities.

Find out more and register your decision by visiting NHS Organ Donor Register click here


Narendra Thakrar, Executive Chairman, Shri Vallabh Nidhi UK (SVNUK)

‘‘Diwali is not only a time to share joy and happiness  amongst our friends and family, it is also a time to reflect on how blessed we are and give thought to those less fortunate than ourselves.

We at SVNUK would like to wish you all a Happy Diwali and urge all our community members to lift the taboo and help raise awareness and support for organ donation.

This Diwali, join the NHS Organ Donation Register and give the gift of life to someone who is in need of your help.’’

Pramod Thakkar, Chairman and Trustee, Jalaram Charitable Trust, Leicester

‘’On the auspicious occasion of Diwali & New Year my message is to follow “Pujya Jalaram Bapa’s” preaching’s of serving fellow human beings by taking part in ang daan (organ donation). Join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Donating an organ is the ultimate gift mankind can give to a fellow human being.’’

Prafula Shah, Living Kidney Donor and Secretary, Bhakti Mandal UK

‘’Diwali is a time to celebrate and spread light. This Diwali – let’s ‘light up a life’ by registering to become an organ donor. This will bring rays of hope to those waiting for transplants.’’

Bharat Patel, Organ Donor Lead, Jalaram Charitable Trust, Leicester

‘’With blessings of Pujya Jalaram Bapa, I wish everyone a happy Diwali and prosperous New Year. In the UK there is a desperate need for BAME organs, where they form thirty one percent of the waiting list.

Only one percent are registered donors. This is not acceptable. Societies need to respond and you can do something special this Diwali by joining the register. Remember you may need an organ one day.’’

Manhar Mehta, Chairman, Vanik Council UK

‘’On this auspicious occasion of Diwali, my appeal to the Jain Community is to “give a gift and pledge for organ donation after death to save someone’s life."

Yatin Dawada, President, Lohana Community North London (LCNL)  

‘’On this auspicious occasion of Diwali, I wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali and a prosperous Hindu New Year 2076 from the LCNL. Diwali is a festival of new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness. As we mark the most important festival of the year for Hindus, why not consider organ donation to brighten up someone’s life.’’