Friday, February 15, 2008

Australian govt keen to boost organ donations

From in Australia:
The federal government plans to lift Australia's stubbornly low rate of organ donation, which is among the worst in the western world.

Parliamentary secretary Jan McLucas said Australia had one of the world's best records in transplant outcomes, but more than 1,800 people were on transplant waiting lists at any time because of a shortage of donors.

Senator McLucas said the government would begin work immediately on a range of measures to increase organ and tissue donation.

She said the final report of the National Clinical Taskforce on Organ and Tissue Donation contained 51 recommendations to improve the donation and transplantation system.

"I am acutely aware of the need to improve the system, and to do more to encourage people to register their wishes and discuss them with their families," she said in a statement.

Speaking at the launch of Australian Organ Donor Awareness Week in Canberra, organised by the advocacy group Gift of Life, she said Australia's donation rate had stayed at around 200 donors a year for many years.

"More than 90 per cent of Australians support the idea of organ and tissue donation, but we have one of the lowest rates of donation in the Western world. The challenge is to convert that support into action," she said.

People could improve the situation by correctly registering their consent on the Australian Organ Donation Register and discussing their decision with their families, she said.

She said there needed to be proper procedures in hospitals to maximise the potential for donation.

Senator McLucas will officially launch the national campaign for Organ Donor Awareness Week in Melbourne on Sunday.

Kidney Health Australia medical director Tim Mathew welcomed the task force report and urged the federal and state governments to act on its recommendations immediately.

"The additional funding required to implement these recommendations is totally justified given the cost-effectiveness of kidney transplantation and the improved survival for patients moving from life on dialysis to transplantation," Dr Mathew said.

Each week, one person dies waiting for a kidney transplant, the average wait for a kidney transplant is four years, and more than half of all organ transplants are kidney-related, according to Kidney Health Australia.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

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