Improvements to the Australian organ donation system are the result of improvements to two environments – the clinical sector and the community sector.
It was wonderful to see this month the release of the organ donation rates for 2017 with a total of 510 deceased donors and 273 living donors providing life to 1,675 Australians facing end-stage organ failure.
Clearly the change in our clinical system, with improved training of health care professionals and the appointment of donation specialists, has resulted in the biggest change. No longer are potential donors missed and every conversation is managed more professionally and compassionately. Thank you to every family who confirmed their loved one’s decision to be a donor or took it upon themselves to donate their loved one’s organs following their death. Those families have given others new life.
However this good news is countered by the fact that overall the consent rate in Australia has not moved in the last 10 years. It has remained at around 60 per cent since the reform program commenced.
This really is the next frontier. We know if someone is registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register in 9 out of 10 occasions their family will support their decision. That’s a 90 per cent consent rate. Conversely if they are not on the register and have not discussed it with their family, that consent rate drops to just 44 per cent.
Transplant Australia will continue to play a pivotal role in encouraging all Australians to join the register. We need to make it easier for people to access the register as the statistics are clear. Families respect a person’s decision to become an organ donor.
We look forward to promoting the register through our events and community programs. That’s where we can make the most difference.