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Australians need to know & ask about organ donations

09 June, 2011

Australia has achieved a 19% increase in organ donation and transplantation outcomes in the year to date (as at 31 May 2011), with 416 Australians receiving life-saving and life-changing transplants from 141 deceased organ donors.

  • 416 Australian lives saved or improved by donated organs from 141 deceased donors in year to date (January - May 2011).
  • This represents highest donation and transplantation outcomes for the same period since national records began.
  • 40% of Australians still do not know donation wishes of their loved ones.
  • Family consent rates remain less than 60%.
  • 1602 Australians on national transplant waiting lists as at 2 May 2011.

Although more Australians are discussing organ and tissue donation wishes, up 9% over the past 12 months, 40% of Australians still don't know the donation wishes of their loved ones. One in three Australians are unsure about how to start the conversation with their family.

Chief Executive Officer of the Organ and Tissue Authority, Yael Cass said that it is encouraging to see a positive shift in Australia in donation and transplantation outcomes and an increased level of family discussion about donation.

"Family knowledge of each other's organ and tissue donation wishes is essential if we are to increase Australia's family consent rate, which is currently less than 60%.

"We are calling on the public to ask and know the donation wishes of their loved ones. It is the family that is asked to confirm the donation wishes of the deceased - people need to talk about it, today".

New research by the Organ and Tissue Authority shows that discussing organ and tissue donation remains a challenge for three key groups.

Men (48%), young adults aged 18-29 years (56%) and people over 65 years (57%) have the highest rates of being unaware of the donation wishes of family members.

"Research shows that within these groups - men, young adults aged 18-29 and people over 65 years - there are barriers. The aim of the new campaign is to let people know that it is OK to talk about organ and tissue donation," said Cass.

This month, the second phase of the national DonateLife campaign, 'Know their wishes, OK?' launched with the aim of encouraging Australians to initiate family discussion and know the donation wishes of the people close to them.

In 2010, the first full year of implementation of the Australian Government's national reform program to increase organ and tissue donation rates, 309 organ donors saved or significantly improved the lives of 931 Australians.

These were the highest donation and transplantation outcomes since national records began. Tissue donors significantly improved the lives of many more Australians.

For information on the DonateLife campaign visit www.donatelife.gov.au.

Source: AAP Media Release: Australian Government - Organ and Tissue Authority

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