May 1, 2015

Facts and Figures of Transplant

Shelley-Lee Waller, Principal Communication Advisor, DonateLife Queensland

Last year, 1,177 Australians received a life-transforming organ transplant through the generosity of 378 organ donors whose families agreed to donation at the time of their loved one’s death. Living and deceased tissue donors also changed lives, restoring sight, heart function, mobility and quality of life to many thousands who receive precious gifts of eye tissue (e.g. corneas), heart valves, bone and skin grafts.

Organ donor numbers nationally have been increasing by approximately 50% in the past six years. However, numbers were slightly down in some states last year, reinforcing the need to keep organ donation in the forefront of the public’s mind.

It is important not only to decide about organ donation, but to register your decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register and let your family know your wishes.

In January, some 1,500 Australians were listed for transplant surgery including 50 children.

A complex range of factors influence organ donor rates. Only a very small proportion (less than 1%) of people die
in a way that means organ donation is medically possible, i.e. in an intensive care unit and while on a ventilator.

Research by the Organ and Tissue Authority revealed a number of common myths and misconceptions may be holding some Australians back. According to this research, the chance to save lives makes 90% of Australians want to become an organ and tissue donor. At the same time, 40% of Australians have not made a decision about organ and tissue donation and 31% have not discussed it with loved ones.

In order to bust the myths that are preventing Australians from making informed decisions, a new campaign was launched this month at www.donatelife.gov.au/myths-and-misconceptions.

Consider sharing this with friends and family as well as visiting the DonateLife website www.donatelife.gov.au.

A few fast facts:

  • Most people think that anyone who dies can become an organ donor. However, less than 1%
    of people die in a way that organ donation can be considered.
  • Rigorous criteria must be met for organ donation to be considered. The patient must have died, or the inevitability of death must be agreed upon by at least two senior doctors.
  • Almost all religions support organ and tissue donation.
  • Age is not a barrier – people over the age of 80 have become organ and tissue donors.
  • You don’t have to be in perfect health. People who smoke, drink or don’t have a healthy diet can still donate.
  • Organ donation is specialised surgery and does not disfigure the body.