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Commonwealth Tribute to Life Project

Working with Commonwealth nations towards a memorandum of understanding on organ donation and transplantation

The ambition

Commonwealth Tribute to Life (CTtL) aims to promote:

  • The value of organ and tissue donation and transplantation in saving and transforming lives
  • The need to ensure safe and ethical practice
  • The benefits that can be shared by all Commonwealth nations through learning and sharing solutions with each other about the common challenges we face

A memorandum of understanding

Using the historical ties and established relationships of our Commonwealth citizens and governments, we believe a great deal of progress can be made through Commonwealth nations working together to share knowledge and expertise around organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

We hope that by the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, we will have gained support from Commonwealth nations for a memorandum of understanding on organ and tissue donation and transplantation which reflects our shared values.

The background

The global database on donation and transplantation estimates that there were over 135,000 organs transplanted in 2016. This gift of life came from the generosity of thousands of living donors (most commonly through the donation of a kidney) and from nearly 35,000 deceased organ donors. Yet organ failure and the need for transplantation remains high in all nations. Such unmet need can lead to the death of those on the transplant waiting list or commercially driven transplantation to the detriment of both organ donors and recipients.

A number of international resolutions and declarations have called on each country to strive toward self-sufficiency in organ donation and transplantation. However, as yet no country has achieved this ambition. The rate of donation varies from zero donors in some Commonwealth nations to over 20 per million population in countries like Australia, Canada, Malta and the UK.

We face common challenges to increase rates of donation across all social groups, ethnicities and religions, and believe more can be done to share knowledge and expertise using the historical ties and established relationships of our Commonwealth citizens and governments.

The benefits

The benefits to Commonwealth nations

  • Gaining of knowledge through the sharing of guidelines, protocols, teaching materials, mentorship and training via self-funded sabbaticals
  • Supporting progress in those nations where organ transplantation exists to higher levels, but where there is continued unmet need in more ethnically diverse communities
  • Exploring the potential for commencing transplantation in countries where it does not exist
  • Encouraging Commonwealth citizens to participate in activities related to their country of historical origin, and also share with them success stories from their country of origin
  • Protecting vulnerable Commonwealth citizens against illegal and unethical transplantation
  • Saving and transforming the lives of thousands of patients

The benefits to the UK

  • Providing leadership in – and learning from – the Commonwealth
  • Gaining from cultural ties, specifically to help address our challenges in BAME organ donation and transplantation

Next steps

Commonwealth Games 2022, Birmingham

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games presents a unique opportunity to showcase organ and tissue donation and transplantation and to agree this memorandum of understanding.

We will be seeking the support of all Commonwealth nations to join this noble and humanitarian effort to save lives.

Image of Commonwealth flags copyright of the Commonwealth Secretariat.