Older Australians are being urged to consider registering as organ and tissue donors as part of DonateLife Week 2023.
The week aims to help raise the profile of organ and tissue donation while also encouraging more Australians to register to be a donor.
According to Australian Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) CEO Lucinda Barry AM, organ, eye and tissue donation saves lives, restores health and improves the quality of life for thousands of Australians each year.
In Australia, like the rest of the world, the need for transplantation exceeds the availability of donor organs, she said.
There are currently around 1,800 Australians on the waitlist for an organ transplant. There are also around 14,000 additional people on dialysis, many of whom may require a kidney transplant.
One organ donor can save the lives of up to seven people and help many more through eye and tissue donation.
Currently, only two percent of people who die in hospital each year can be considered for organ donation.
This is because there are strict rules about the organ donation process.
A person must die in a hospital in specific circumstances, in an ICU or ED, as organs need to be functioning well to be considered for transplantation.
OTA said in 2022, requests to families for donations were made in 1,300 cases. Of this, 701 families said yes to donation in the hospital, with 454 people becoming organ donors.
This included 144 donors from Victoria, 122 from NSW, 77 from Queensland, 43 from Western Australia, 39 from South Australia, 18 from Tasmania, 10 from the Australian Capital Territory and one from the Northern Territory.
Since the national program first began 14 years ago, more than 16,700 people have received life-saving organ transplants from 5,904 deceased organ donors.
The first 10 years of the national program saw a 122 percent increase in deceased donation rates, resulting in an 81 percent increase in people receiving an organ transplant. However, since the emergence of COVID-19, the number of organ donors and people who have received a transplant is down by 15 percent.
However, OTA said that eight out of 10 families gave consent to donation when their family member was registered to be a donor.
“This dropped to only four out of 10 families who gave consent to donation when their family didn’t know they wanted to be a donor.”
DonateLife Week runs from 23 July to 30 July.
Do you need aged care support for yourself or a loved one? Just Better Care can help people from diverse backgrounds with different lifestyles achieve their goals. Get started by talking to a local team member today.