Transplant Australia has been working quietly behind the scenes to correct an anomaly in the Tissue and Transplantation Acts in SA, WA and the NT which, on one interpretation, prevented anyone disclosing the details of donors. The anomaly meant that this privacy requirement intended for health care practitioners could be extended to the families of those donors.
We wrote to the Minister for Health in WA, Hon. Amber-Jade Sanderson, and this month have received assurances that donor families can continue to celebrate their loved ones’ contribution to saving others. Common sense prevailed.
Unfortunately the issue has received some negative publicity today and so we have issued the following statement. If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact us.
The Transplant Australia Statement
For more than 50 years donor families in Australia have been celebrating publicly their loved one’s gift and will continue to do so. They should be proud of the legacy left by their loved one.
These celebrations include annual thanksgiving services, donor memorials, and the transplant games. In all of these activities the names and faces of donors have been proudly displayed.
The privacy provisions of the Human Tissue and Transplant Act in each state and territory were written originally to protect both the identity of recipients who were receiving these unique organs and donors and specifically prevented health care professionals from disclosing this information.
Recently it came to Transplant Australia’s attention that an anomaly in the Human Tissue Act in WA, SA and the NT, meant that clarification was needed regarding families disclosing their loved one’s identity in those jurisdictions. We are pleased that the WA Minister for Health, The Hon. Amber-Jade Sanderson, has confirmed in writing that there is no intention under the Human Tissue and Transplant Act to pursue prosecution of individuals who disclose information about donors. We are also pleased the Minister has committed to review the legislation to ensure donor families can honour and commemorate their loved ones and to raise community awareness about organ and tissue donation.
Transplant Australia will continue to work with the WA Government and DonateLife to promote positive messages about organ and tissue donation, particularly during DonateLife Week and especially in the lead-up to the World Transplant Games to be held in Perth next April. We have to remember there are more than 1,700 people currently waiting for a life-saving transplant and we need all of Australia to support this cause.
Donor families should remain confident and proud of their loved one. And if they wish to speak about it publicly they are welcome to do so with the support of Transplant Australia.