Donate Life Week is intended to improve awareness amongst both the general public and health professionals of organ and tissue donation as well as encouraging discussions around individual wishes and decisions.
It is run in Australia by the Organ and Tissue Authority as part of the Australian Government’s National Reform Agenda to increase organ and tissue donation rates.
In Australia the family will always be asked to confirm the donation wishes of the deceased before donation can proceed so it is incredibly important for anyone intending to enroll on the donation register to ensure that these conversations have already taken place.
Despite the fact that most Australians are generally willing to become organ and tissue donors (70 and 76 per cent respectively) the consent rate amongst their families is relatively low with less than 60% agreeing for donation to proceed. It is thought that 43% of family members have no idea what the wishes of their loved ones are.
There are currently around 1,700 people waiting for organ transplants in Australia as you read this…. fifty of them are children.
In 2011, 1001 Australians received transplants from 337 donors, giving Australia one of the most successful transplant records in the world.
The first successful solid organ transplant was carried out on 23 December 1954. Dr Joseph Murray transplanted a kidney from one identical twin to the other in Boston, USA. The first heart transplant was performed by Dr Christian Barnard in 1967 in South Africa.
Advances in transplant techniques, the refinement of immunosuppressive therapy and improved survival rates have continued to advance to such an extent that demand for organs vastly exceeds supply in most countries with transplant programmes.
The shortage of organs is compounded with broader and more equitable eligibility criteria for transplantation, with programs now including the elderly and sicker patients. If we accept that organ transplantation is a medically desirable and ethically acceptable procedure, then we need to explore energetically ways of overcoming the problem.
:: Donate Life Australia ::
For more information check out the following links:
- Clinical update on organ and tissue donation for medical staff.
- Fact sheet (pdf).
- Mythbusting organ and tissue donation (pdf).
- Family discussion starter kit.
This is a great resource for your patients, assisting them with generating informed discussions around this topic.
- Religious beliefs and donation. Well, its pretty much OK across the board. But you can check on the exceptions here.
- The online register. Here you can add your name to the national database and specify your exact wishes. Even if you have indicated your wishes elsewhere (eg on your will or drivers license) this is the only ‘point of truth’ that will be accessed for confirmation in the event of your death.