FEDERAL Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash has called on all Australians including those in regional areas to speak to their family about becoming organ donors.
The NSW Nationals Senator – who lives on a family sheep and grain farming operation at Young - made the plea as she released details of an independent review of the Implementation of the National Reform Agenda on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, today in Canberra.
“Our donors are heroes and they need to be recognised as that,” she said.
“We also need to recognise the extraordinary work that our doctors and nurses do in incredibly difficult circumstances.
“We all need to work together to improve the organ donation rates – and save more lives.
“It’s about awareness – we need people to have the conversation and discuss organ donation.”
Senator Nash said around 6.1 million people had registered intent to donate their organs - but only 1.8m of them finalised the process and actually become a registered donor.
“I think as a nation we need to lift the level of discussion around this,” she said.
“This is about saving people’s lives.
“I think virtually all of us across the country, if need be, we want to be a recipient of an organ donation, therefore we should all think about being an organ donor.”
Senator Nash said as an organ donor, she was also encouraging others around the country to also think about it and make that decision.
She said importantly, people needed to “have that conversation” with family and loved ones”
“If the family knows of their loved ones’ wishes there’s a 91 per cent chance that organ donation will happen,”.
“If the conversation hasn’t happened and somebody isn’t registered - only 47pc of those organ donations go ahead.
“I actually had the conversation with my husband and my two boys Will and Henry on the weekend and we’re all going to become organ donors and I’m encouraging everyone across the entire nation to think about it right now and be an organ donor.”
Senator Nash said the Ernst and Young review found that the existing strategy to increase organ donations was “sound; however there is still significant room for improvement of donation rates” which requires “effective implementation and monitoring of the strategy nationally”.
The review made various recommendations around governance, transparency and accountability including a new governance board to provide stronger oversight and support for the work of the Organ and Tissue Authority
Other recommendations included;
• The publication of the breakdown of State and Territory funding on the OTA website
• Organ and tissue donation data to be made public on a hospital by hospital and a state by state basis
• Minimum standards for the auditing of organ donation practices to be defined
• The Donate Life Network to monitor the proportion of ICU specialists, staff and trainees in each hospital who have been trained in having the donation conversation with families
• States and Territories to clearly define who is responsible for organ donation rates in their jurisdiction
• Proceeding with a one-step online donor registration process (which the government has been working on, expected to launch in May), supported by a social media awareness campaign.
Transplant Australia welcomed the review with Chair Jason Ryan saying it would bring a lot more clarity to the sector.
Mr Ryan said his group’s vision was to see every suitable organ made available for transplantation.
“Although there’s been some great success in the last few years we believe more can be done – Australia can do better,” he said.
Mr Ryan said his group wanted like to see the organ donor registry modernised so all Australians can sign-up quickly and easily.
Senator Nash said she would now work with stakeholders to determine the best way forward as a result of the review and its 24 recommendations but would not pre-empt any decisions, including on funding allocations.