We need to talk about organ and tissue donation

organ and tissue donation: hands holding red heart

Well over half of all families give consent to organ and tissue donation of a loved one and this figure jumps to 80% when there has been a prior discussion and decision made by the donor with their family.

Yet there has been a small fall in donors last year compared to 2013, indicating that more families need to start talking on this topic.

Releasing the Organ and Tissue Authority 2014 Performance Report, Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash thanked families of organ and tissue donors and urged people to discuss their decision to donate with their families.

“These families gave the gift of life at the time of their loved one’s death,” Minister Nash says.

“It is a truly amazing gift. The number of deceased organ donors has now increased by 53% since 2009, when the DonateLife Network was established.

Last year some 1,117 lives were transformed by 378 organ donors, Minister Nash says.

“However in 2014, a fall in the number of people donating in some states and territories meant the number of deceased organ donors nationally decreased by 3%–to 378 organ donors from 391 in 2013.

“Transplant recipients also decreased by a small number.”

“I urge all Australians to discuss this important issue with their families and register their wish to donate,” Minister Nash says.

“Less than 1% of people die under the specific circumstances in hospital where organ donation is possible.

“Families that have had a prior family discussion find it much easier to agree to a loved one becoming a donor. For many, the donation process provides them with comfort in their loss of a loved one.

“I invite discussion on how the Australian community can continue to lift donation rates and on the appropriateness of the current donation arrangements, which place responsibility on the family to decide whether or not organ donation can go ahead.

“One organ and tissue donor can transform the lives of 10 or more people. One conversation with your family today could help save the lives of many.”

The challenge of continuing to increase organ donation rates will be discussed by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments in the coming months.

The number of organs transplanted in Australia has increased by 39% since 2009, while the number of transplant recipients has jumped by 38%, as doctors often take multiple donated organs from each donor.

“The report also showed that in 2014, we saw a 31% increase in deceased tissue donation from both tissue only donors and multi-organ and tissue donors.

“In the same period there was a 45% increase in tissue grafts transplanted and a 50% increase in the number of tissue transplant recipients,” Minister Nash says.

“In 2015 we will focus on continued change in clinical practice such as increasing the number of identified potential donors, improving the donation process for loved ones and enhancing IT systems to support organ and tissue donation and transplantation.”



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