Health bosses are losing a battle to sign up more Midlanders to the organ donor register with latest figures showing the region is worst in the country for potential lifesavers.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) managers have published a map showing areas with the most and least donors nationwide, but Birmingham and its neighbouring towns score pitifully low.
They fear locals wrongly believe their religion will not allow it but all major faiths including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism allow organ donation.
While Scotland and the South West have a third (33 per cent) of all residents pledged on the Organ Donor Register to offer their organs after death to someone hoping for survival on the transplant list, the West Midlands has the lowest numbers with only one in every five people ( 22 per cent) signed up.
But pockets of the region have even worse results with only one in every 12 people (eight per cent) in inner city Birmingham on the register, one in six (15 per cent) in north and east Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
Solihull and south Birmingham fair better with around one in five at 20 per cent and 18.9 per cent respectively.
Steve Thomas, spokesman for Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust, which has a high ethnic minority population, said: “We have not researched the reasons people give for not signing up to the organ donor register, but some people mistakenly believe that their religion prohibits the practice, although in most instances, organ donation is permitted by religions,” said Mr Thomas.
“Organ donation is a very personal decision.
“We encourage people to discuss the issue with their close family, so that their wishes are known and respected. Just because you carry a donor card, it doesn’t mean that your wishes have been officially noted. So the best thing to do is to sign up to the Organ Donor Register.”
NHSBT, a special health authority responsible for matching and allocating donated organs and providing blood supplies, has released the figures to coincide with Transplant Week this week and remind people just how important the gift of life can be.
There are currently 7,986 people in the UK on the waiting list for an organ, from a heart to a lung, and a further 2,300 people on a “suspended” list because they are currently too ill to go through the transplant that they need.
Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHSBT, said: “Whilst 90 per cent of people say they support organ donation, just 27 per cent have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register.
“If we are to meet the growing need for organs across the UK we really need more people sign up as organ donors. Our job at NHSBT is to make sure that people know how to join and the difference they can make to the lives of others by signing up.”
The death of Midlands schoolboy Daniel Lambton was devastating for his family but by giving consent for his organs to be donated, the tragedy saved four other lives.
Paperboy Daniel, who was 12, was delivering papers with his father David on December 29, 1995, when he was knocked over by a car and declared brain dead the following day.
Mr Lambton said: “At least we were going to give someone a fighting chance.
“On that day, Daniel’s liver and two kidneys were released and we found out that his gift saved four people’s lives.
“That’s the best decision I have ever made in my life.”