Difficult conversation with loved ones vital to boosting organ donation rate

Difficult conversation with loved ones vital to boosting organ donation rate

74Health Minister Jillian Skinner has urged families across NSW to discuss their wishes regarding organ donation and register to become donors to boost the state’s transplantation rate.

The Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) 2014 Performance Report -released today – shows there were 92 organ donors in NSW in 2014, from whom 263 organs were retrieved and transplanted.

The 92 donors in 2014 is the second highest number on record in NSW but down from the record 102 donors in 2013.

Mrs Skinner said almost 40 per cent of potential NSW donors were lost to the system in 2014 because families chose not to proceed. The other most common reason for potential donors not proceeding was because they were medically unsuitable.

“The latest figures on organ donation serve as a timely reminder of the importance of discussing this difficult issue and making your decision known to loved ones,” she said.

“Too often, grieving families are faced with uncertainty around whether or not to donate their loved one’s organs at an already very difficult time.

“The majority of families who did not consent for organ donation felt unprepared for the decision and did not know their loved one’s wishes. This highlights the importance of family discussion about organ donation decisions.

“Less than two per cent of deaths in NSW hospitals occur in ways that open up the possibility for organ donation.

“No family in Australia should have to go through this kind of decision in a time of extreme grief and distress.

“We ask that all families discuss their thoughts on organ donation, share their decision and register it on Medicare’s Australian Organ Donor Register,” Mrs Skinner said.

NSW continued to meet clinical demand for tissue donation in 2014. A total of 376 corneal donors meant sight could be restored for 650 people.

As a result of other tissue donations, a number of people also received heart valves to correct malformations of the heart and bone and tendons for spinal fusions and treatments after cancer, trauma and sports injuries.

In 2012, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government released a plan, Increasing Organ Donation in NSW, to boost the transplantation rate.

Key initiatives included closure of the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (formerly RTA) organ donor register, moving to the single national Australian Organ Donor Register administered by Medicare, and targeted placement of dedicated organ donation and nurses in hospitals with high caseloads of potential donors, including doctors with specialised training to manage the organ donation conversation with families.

“The NSW Government has taken significant steps to boost organ donation but of course the greatest responsibility lies with potential donors and their loved ones,” Mrs Skinner said.

“The death of a relative is distressing and grief often leaves little time for consideration of practical matters.

“But the window for retrieving and successfully transplanting organs is very small and it would be a great pity if a person’s dying wish were not fulfilled because their loved ones did not know their wishes.

“Today I urge all people in NSW to have the difficult conversation which has the potential to save many lives.”

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