Australia’s organ donation rates are relatively low compared to other developed nations, ranking 22nd in the World. Sadly there are not enough donated organs to meet demand.
Currently Australia has 16.9 donors per million population with the Government aiming to increase that number to 25 by 2018.
Australia’s national reform programme aims to implement a world’s best practice approach to organ and tissue donation for transplantation. The twin objectives of the national reform programme are to:
- Increase the capability and capacity within the health system to maximise donation rates; and
- Raise community awareness and stakeholder engagement across Australia to promote organ and tissue donation.
In 2015, 435 organ donors enabled 1,241 Australians a new chance in life.
The national reform programme was implemented in 2009 and improved Australia’s organ and tissue donation rates, but it has been argued that intensive care procedures aimed at identifying more potential donors have not been followed properly.
Around 1,500 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists at any time.
Depending upon where you live in the world there are different systems for organ and tissue donation. Some have an opt-out system, where everyone is a donor unless they or their family state otherwise. Others, such as Australia, prefer the opt-in system; no one is a donor unless a next of kin chooses otherwise.
Some of us will have ticked the donor box on our driver licence but despite this, at the time of our death, the decision to donate our organs will lie with our family; start the conversation with your family, loved ones and friends about whether you wish to be an organ and tissue donor.
Importantly an online Australian Organ Donor Register has replaced the state based driver’s licence system (except in South Australia).
In the event that you are involved in a fatal accident the hospital staff will discuss with your family which organs and tissues may be possible to donate. This will depend on the person’s age, medical history, and the circumstances of their death. The family will be asked to confirm which organs and tissues they agree to be donated.
Organs that can be transplanted include the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestine and pancreas.
Tissues that can be transplanted include heart valves and other heart tissue, bone, tendons, ligaments, skin and parts of the eye, – such as the cornea and sclera.
Organ and tissue donation does not affect funeral arrangements.
An adult deceased donor liver can benefit two recipients – it can be split so that one larger section can be transplanted into an adult and the smaller segment given to a child.
In this blog we discuss the need to make plans for your future, that could be superannuation, insurance, advance care directives, powers of attorney, and Wills. Importantly if you believe (as the overwhelming number of Australians do) in donating your organs and tissues discuss this with your loved ones and register.