A Como pharmacy has become the first to install a touchscreen enabling customers to sign up to be organ donors

The Amcal Community Pharmacy Como hosted the launch of a new, online donor registration process which will allow Australians to instantly register their details as a donor, as part of a push to increase sign-up rates.

Aged Care Minister and Indigenous health Minister Ken Wyatt unveiled a new portal at www.donatelife.gov.au.

Mr Wyatt also announced a new partnership with the Australian Football League to help lift the national organ donor rates.

Pharmacy partner and proprietor Paul Tonz says he’s hopeful that the touchscreen concept will be rolled out through pharmacies across the nation.

The DonateLife launch. Image: Amcal Community Pharmacy Como via Facebook

He told the AJP that he had put his hand up to work with Mr Wyatt on Indigenous and other health issues, and that Mr Wyatt suggested the pharmacy host the touchscreen.

“He says we’re always looking to improve donation registration rates,” Mr Tonz says. “I wasn’t a donor myself at that point.

“Barriers are awareness, convenience – nobody really thinks about going all the way in to an office and signing up. But they’re two factors which may be easily provided in the pharmacy setting.

“You’re here, you’ve got your Medicare card, you’re health-conscious and you’re waiting for your prescription to be filled.”

The touchscreen is surrounded by large signage to attract attention, and the process takes less than a minute, Mr Tonz says.

“And bang, you’re 100% in. We also have patient handouts on the whole process, as well as a more specific opt-in process so that you can donate everything except your retinal tissue if that’s what you want, for example, or your kidneys.”

The collateral also includes a section on encouraging prospective donors to talk about their wishes with loved ones. In a significant number of cases, family members are unsure whether a loved one who becomes eligible for organ donation would have preferred to do so, and err on the side of caution by not consenting to the process.

“It’s my understanding that if you talk about your decision, the chance of donation goes up from around 60 to nearly 100%,” Mr Tonz says.

Customers have reacted very positively to the touchscreen, he says, both during the well-attended launch and afterwards.

“We had people from DonateLife in the pharmacy, members of the women’s AFL Dockers side, a number of organ recipients and some local patients of ours in, as well as Ken Wyatt and a local MP, Steve Irons. So it was flat out in here!

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Hopefully if it takes off, we’ll see it in many different pharmacies, and if we get good numbers, I’ll hopefully be presenting it to others.”

Mr Tonz adds that he’s now registered as an organ donor.

“Absolutely I am! It’s just about awareness and opportunity.”

 

Organ donation: the statistics

In launching the new DonateLife portal and the AFL partnership, Mr Wyatt and Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement that there exists a significant gap between the number of Australians willing to become an organ donor, and those who have actually signed up.

New research commissioned by the Organ and Tissue Authority shows that 67% of people are willing to donate organs if they die under the right circumstances, but only 33% are registered donors.

While 90% of Australians believe it is important that their family knows their donation decision, just 56% have made a decision about becoming a donor and only 51% have discussed the subject with loved ones.

“Joining the Australian Organ Donor Register is crucial because it leaves your family in no doubt as to your wishes,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This is highlighted by the fact that nine out of 10 families agree to donation when the deceased is a registered donor.”

Young adults aged 18-24 years are the demographic most willing to receive a life-saving transplant if needed (75%) however only 8% of this age group have joined the Australian Organ Donor Register.