Do a good thing by registering to donate to save lives
IN THE past decade more than 11,000 Australians lives have been saved through transplant, but many more can be saved if more people register as an organ donor.
For someone who is seriously ill, an organ or tissue transplant can mean the difference between life and death, being healthy and sick, between seeing and being blind or between being active and never walking again.
"Becoming an organ donor is actually quite rare," says Lucinda Barry, CEO of the Organ and Tissue Authority. "Many people don't know, but you have to die in hospital, usually in an intensive care unit or an emergency department. This is because your organs do not survive very long without blood flow with oxygen.
"So, out of all the deaths in Australia, only two to three per cent have the opportunity to be a donor.
How do you register?
You can register through donatelife.gov.au, MyGov or using a paper-based form.
What tissue can be donated?
Heart, lungs, liver, kidney and pancreas. Tissue that can be transplanted includes heart valves, bone, skin and parts of the eye.
What level of health is needed?
- It's a common barrier that seniors think they are too old or sick to become organ and tissue donors. People in their 70s and 80s have saved lives through organ and tissue donation. One of the oldest Australian donors was an 88-year-old kidney donor.
- People who smoke, drink or have an unhealthy diet can still donate. You don't have to be in perfect health to save lives.
Am I already registered?
Look on donatelife.gov.au and go to Register tab, submit your details and if you are registered it will immediately let you know. You can also check through your MyGov account or phone 1800 777 203.
Tell the family
- Tell your family you have registered. Nine out of 10 Most families agree to donation when their loved one is on the donor register. Consent is given in seven out of 10 cases when the family knows what their loved one wanted, but this drops to five out of 10 when the family is unaware of what their family member wanted.
- All major religions support organ and tissue donation.
Does a person's GP need to know that a Senior has registered? Why?
- If you become either brain dead or not going to survive the case specialist donation staff will check the register and also talk with your family about your wishes.
- It's not essential to tell your GP but if you have any questions they are a good person to discuss organ and tissue donation with.
Can family members decide to allow donation after a family member has died?
When a person dies in a situation where they can become a donor, the possibility of donation is always raised with their family, who need to make the decision about donation.
Specialist donation hospital staff will check the Australian Organ Donor Register to find out whether the person had registered to be a donor, and share this information with the family.
A donation specialist doctor or nurse meets with the family to talk about donation and supports them in making the decision that is right for them. The overwhelming majority of families uphold their loved ones wishes - that's why it's so important that you register and tell your family what you want.
DonateLife Week 2019 runs from July 28 to August 4. For more information, go to donateLife.gov.au.