NSW plan to drive organ donation rates higher

NSW is aiming to double our organ donation rates by remodelling the way organ donation is run in hospitals and removing registration of donations through the drivers’ licence system.

The Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, today launched a plan under which the drivers’ licence registration of organ donor status will be abolished by November this year.

The plan includes bringing specialist “requesters” into hospitals, medical staff who are not part of a potential donor’s treating team who will broach the topic of organ donation.

Currently, staff in intensive care units are expected to raise the issue of organ donation at the same time as they are providing care.

Mrs Skinner said there was still a long way to go in improving organ donation rates in NSW from the current organ donation rate of 36 per cent to meet a national target of 70 per cent.

“Last year NSW hospitals identified 215 potential organ donors who were medically suitable to donate,” she said. “Of those, only 77 actually donated organs.”

But she said countries with successful organ donation programs such as Spain and Croatia had taken about 10 years to improve their donation rates.

Mrs Skinner has decided to abandon the strategy of drivers’ licence registration in favour of the national register because there is little opportunity to educate people about organ donation during the licensing process.

NSW is the only state in Australia that maintains a register separate to the national one.

A “snapshot” of the existing drivers’ licence register will be maintained for five years so that people’s registered intentions can still be discovered.

However, the laws covering organ donation will change so that information can be considered that indicates that a deceased person who registered that they did not want to donate had since changed their minds.

“This means that organ and tissue donation will be able to proceed if a deceased person has told a relative or friend that they want to be a donor after having previously registered an objection,” the Increasing Organ Donation in NSW government plan of 2012 said.

The plan also involves an information campaign, and flags the idea of making the way people sign up to be an organ and tissue donor easier.

It notes that in Britain text messaging registration has been trialled, whereby people can text the word ‘GIVE’ to a special number in order to be added to the register.

The form to register: https://www2.medicareaustralia.gov.au/pext/registerAodr/Pages/DonorRegistration.jsp

More information here: http://www.donatelife.gov.au/

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