Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King, today called on all Australians to discover, decide and discuss organ donation with their families this DonateLife Week (24 February – 3 March).
New research released today emphasised the importance of family discussion about donation wishes. The majority (86%) of Australians surveyed would agree to donation if they knew their family member was willing to become an organ donor; yet, only 56% of people would agree to donation if the wishes of the deceased were unknown.
Ms King said while public support for organ and tissue donation remained strong at an individual level, many families find it difficult to ask each other about donation wishes, "One in three Australians surveyed are either unwilling or would find it awkward to have a conversation with their family about family members’ donation wishes."
Ms King stressed the importance of family discussion.
"Family discussion and consent is needed for organ and tissue donation to occur in Australia. This is also the practice in countries like Spain, who are recognised as world leaders in organ donor rates. People who have discussed and know the donation wishes of their loved ones in advance are much more likely to say yes to donation," she said.
"Survey results indicate that 70% of Australians are having conversations with family member, at least once a week, on issues that are very important to them such as changing career, buying a house and finances. During DonateLife Week, we want organ donation to be ‘the topic’ for family discussion in every home across Australia to make their wishes count. It is a conversation that could one day save or transform the lives of 10 or more people," she said.
"Now more than 500 donation specialists and clinical staff in ICUs and Emergency Departments have received intensive training in Family Donation Conversations. This means families who are in the rare position to give consent to organ donation are well informed about the process and given the support they need to make the decision that is right for them.
Organ and tissue donation rates in Australia have steadily increased since the introduction of the Government’s national reform agenda in 2009.
Last year the number of organ donors and transplant recipients was the highest since national records began with 354 organ donors, giving 1,052 Australians a second chance at life.
People can support DonateLife Week by:
• Sharing your decision about organ and tissue donation with your family and friends
• Following @DonateLifeToday
• Adding a "DonateLife Twibbon" badge to your Facebook and/or Twitter profile picture http://twibbon.com/Support/donatelife-week
• Becoming a fan of DonateLife Week on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/DonateLifeAustralia
• Registering your donation decision at www.donatelife.gov.au/decide
• Sharing your story about organ donation with the community via the DonateLife website
• Promoting DonateLife Week in your workplace or community organisation.
Community events are happening all around the country, for a list of events in your state visit donatelife.gov.au