A nurse who specialises in organ donation at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust has been awarded an MBE.

Over the past five years Shibu Chacko, who is employed jointly by the Trust and NHS Blood and Transplant, has encouraged more than 3,000 people from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities to sign up to the organ donation register.

He said: “When I first started in the job, I became aware that there was a shortage of donors from ethnic minority communities, so I decided to do something about it."

“There are 6,500 patients on the waiting list for a donor organ, 1,800 from BME communities. Patients do better if they receive an organ from someone of the same ethnicity, but the numbers of organ donors are extremely low from the minority community, in fact less than 100 donors a year.

"Of the 26 million people on the UK’s organ donor register, only 1.7% are from the BME community, mainly due to a lack of awareness of donation and the specific needs of their community.”

Through conversations with patients and families, he found that there was poor understanding of the importance of organ donation amongst BME communities.

For example, people were concerned about what their loved one would look like once an organ had been removed, or thought that donating organs was against their religion.

In 2015, Shibu became the first donor ambassador for NHS Blood and Transplant and set about educating BME communities by going along to religious and cultural events in his own time, giving presentations and talking to people face to face.

“As I’m originally from south Asia myself, people were happy to invite me along to events and listen to what I had to say,” says Shibu. “I’m really pleased that my work was successful, and I am honoured to have been appointed an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.”

In 2018, Shibu created the world's first course on organ donation for healthcare professionals, in partnership with the St George's University of London. The course has been a huge success and medical schools such as St Georges and UCLH have made it a mandatory programme for medical students as part of their final year of study.

Chief nurse Angela Helleur said: “Shibu is an absolute credit to our Trust and I am so proud of the work he has done to promote organ donation amongst ethnic minorities. He thoroughly deserves this recognition.”