Organ Donation

'The Facts'

Each year there are only approximately 200 organ donors across Australia. This figure equates to Australia having one of the lowest organ donor rates in the developed world and hundreds of people die each year while waiting for an organ transplant.

Research, improved medical techniques and technology have resulted in greatly improved survival rates and a better quality of life for most organ recipients.

One organ and tissue donor could help save and improve the quality of life of up to 10 people.

Organ transplants transform lives and are the best possible treatment for people with organ failure. But there simply aren't enough donor organs for everyone who needs them.

Due to this shortage of organs, currently there are approximately 2,000 people on transplant waiting lists around Australia and hundreds of people die each year while waiting for an organ transplant.

Life on the list for some people can last for more than 15 years and reduces their quality of life dramatically. For example, a person suffering kidney failure can spend up to eight hours a day on a dialysis machine. Heart or lung failure can leave people struggling to walk and those with liver failure suffer serious fatigue, bloating and jaundice.

Less than one per cent of people die in a way that organ donation is medically possible - making any organ donation incredibly valuable. It’s so important to communicate your wishes to your family and friends. Currently, just 50 per cent of families consent to organ donation across Australia, because many family members are not aware of their loved one’s decision to donate.

A 2006, the 'Australians Donate' survey found while 94 per cent of Australians support organ and tissue donation for transplantation, only 25 per cent of Australians had made their wishes known about organ and tissue donation to anyone.

Please take the time to consider organ donation and talk about it with your partner, family or friends. Your choice could dramatically change the lives of so many people - for the better. Organ and tissue donation occurs when a person has made their wishes known, or their family, agrees to the removal of one or more of their organs or tissues. These are then transplanted into someone else to either save or improve their quality of life.

Most organs are donated by people who die while on a ventilator in an Intensive Care Unit, generally as a result of a major accident, a brain haemorrhage or stroke. Today very few people die in these circumstances and the number is falling because of welcomed improvements in road safety and advances in medical treatment.

A person can donate a number of different organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and pancreas. They can also donate certain body tissues, such as corneas, skin, heart valves and bone. Tissue donation may occur when someone has died without being in hospital as tissues can be donated up to 24 hours after death. Many more people are suitable for tissue donation than organ donation.

While most donations occur after a person has died, it is also possible to donate some organs while you are still alive. For example, a relative or friend can donate one of their kidneys to another relative or friend. This is called living-related donation.