Australia has been increasing the rate of organ donation in recent years, but we still need to improve.

Man wearing a t-shirt showing body organsOrgan donation involves removing organs from a donor and transplanting them into people who are usually very ill or dying. Most transplants happen when the donor dies. In some cases, living donors give a kidney or part of their liver to a recipient.

At the time of writing, around 1,600 Australians are waiting for a transplant. Organ donation can do wonders for them. A lung transplant can save a life and a kidney transplant can mean not spending several hours, several times a week, hooked up to a dialysis machine. Sadly, however, some people wait for too long, without ever having an organ transplant due to a shortage of donations.

Awareness and support

Improving awareness and knowledge can help increase the donation rate. For example, some people don’t know that that it’s not enough just to be registered. Your family also has to give permission to donate your organs. They can only do that if you’ve been clear with them about your wishes.

Another important fact is that organs aren’t removed until it’s known that a person is brain dead. This involves two senior doctors separately testing to confirm there’s no brain function and no blood flow to the brain. At this point, there’s no possibility your brain will ever function again.

For living donors, financial support can help when deciding to donate. Donors need to take time off work, often unpaid leave. From July 1, up to six weeks holiday pay (received as paid leave from your employer) has been made available through a government program for living donors who give the ultimate gift.

For more information ring (02) 6198 9800 or visit www.donatelife.gov.au.

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