NHS and Tropical Sun aim to start family ‘Heart to Heart’ about blood and organ donation

23 March 2021

People across the country are being encouraged to have a ‘heart to heart’ as part of a new campaign to get people from Black and Asian backgrounds talking about blood and organ donation.

The ‘Heart-to-Heart’ campaign is being launched today (23rd March 2021) by NHS Blood and Transplant and popular household food brand, Tropical Sun, leading importer of specialist ingredients and daily essentials for ethnic communities.

The campaign aims to reach people in the heart of the home: the kitchen and around the dinner table, with the hope of sparking life-saving conversations about blood and organ donation. 

Featuring on Tropical Sun’s packets of rice and tins of Jackfruit are the NHS’ calls-to-action prompting conversations around blood and organ donation. They also feature powerful real-life stories of people whose lives have been directly impacted by blood and organ donation. 

Geraldine Parker Smith, National BAME Marketing Manager at NHS Blood and Transplant says: “Tropical Sun have given the NHS a fantastic opportunity to reach out directly to people who may not have had a reason to think or speak about blood or organ donation before.

“More and more black people are saving lives by donating blood but there remains an urgent need for donors from black backgrounds as they are ten times more likely to have the blood types needed by black patients in need.

Ethnically matched blood gives the best chance for long-term health, particularly with sickle cell disease, which is more common in black people and requires regular complete blood transfusions to reduce the risk of strokes.

“Through this campaign, we also want to encourage families to have the conversation about organ donation. People from Black and Asian backgrounds are often more likely to need a transplant, and when it comes to organs like kidneys, the best match may come from someone of the same ethnic background.

We are urging people to register their organ donation decision and to share it with their family. Whatever your decision, we know that families are more likely to support it when they have the certainty of knowing what you want to happen.”

In addition to the on-pack promotion, Tropical Sun has also recruited some of the UK’s leading celebrities to donate blood and record personal reflections on organ donation.

This includes support from celebrities including legendary athlete, Col Dame Kelly Holmes (MBE mil), actress Nina Wadia OBE and actor Ricky Whittle, best known for his starring role in the TV series American Gods.

Nina Wadia knows personally the importance of having a conversation about organ donation. Her mum lived with kidney failure and daily dialysis for many years, until eventually a suitable donor was found.

While her mum sadly died a few years later, Nina speaks of her gratitude for the extra time the transplant gave to the family.

Nina says: “Even as an actress, I know how difficult it can be to find the right words when you are trying to discuss a serious topic, such as organ or blood donation. So I am glad that the NHS continues to try and find ways to make the conversation easier.

“For many families, cooking and eating are the times when we can all come together to discuss both the little and big life matters.

Having the conversation can actually be much easier and quicker than you expect. And yet the difference that quick chat can make, for people like my mum, and so many others, who are living in need of a transplant or regular blood transfusions is indescribable.

“What greater gift can there be of knowing that you can be responsible for saving somebody – or several people’s lives? Or giving a child extra time with a parent, or a parent extra time with their child? Please don’t wait, find out more about blood and organ donation and have the conversation with your loved ones today.”

Also supporting the ‘Heart-to-Heart’ campaign are boxers Michael Page and Ashley Theophane, actor and comedians Eddie Nestor and John Simmit, rapper and comedian Doc Brown and celebrity hairstylist Errol Douglas MBE.

Having previously worked with the Sickle Cell Society, the Tropical Sun team were already aware of the impact that the shortfall in blood and organ donors was having on Black and Asian communities.

Tropical Sun’s Head of Community Paul Harrison says: “The majority of Tropical Sun customers come from African, Asian and Caribbean backgrounds, so we’re delighted to support the NHS in their quest to improve conditions for people from these communities.

“Knowing how these conversations are more likely to happen when families gather for meals, whether cooking or eating, it seemed like the perfect idea to deliver the message directly on the food itself.

We are proud that the ingredients we supply can help bring individuals and families together – and we hope that through the ‘Heart-to-Heart’ campaign – we can encourage more families to have a conversation about blood and organ donation.

Find out more about Tropical Sun’s support for the Heart-to-Heart campaign

Help us promote the campaign

We would love your support promoting this exciting campaign with your family, friends, and networks. We have created a campaign toolkit, with some key messaging and lots of campaign assets for you to share. Access the Heart to Heart campaign toolkit

You can also share videos from our NHS Give Blood YouTube playlist. Please include the hashtag #HeartToHeart and don’t forget to tag us in @givebloodnhs