The AMA last month came out strongly in support of DonateLife Week and the work of the Government and the Organ and Tissue Authority to generate greater awareness and understanding of organ and tissue donation in the community.
AMA Vice President Professor Geoffrey Dobb said that Australia’s organ donation rate is increasing, with Australia achieving its highest donation rate last year, but more hard work and education is needed to build on this success.
“The key is to get people talking about organ donation, but the talk must be informed talk,” Professor Dobb said.
“Research released recently by the Government about the attitudes of 18-29 year olds to organ donation shows that there is still some reluctance within families to discuss organ donation wishes.
“Some people think that their family would not support their decision to become an organ donor, so it is important that the issue is discussed openly and thoroughly by families.
“There is also a misconception among young people that doctors may not work as hard to save the lives of people if they know they are organ donors.
“That is definitely not the case,” Professor Dobb said.
Professor Dobb said that people should also talk openly and ask questions about organ and tissue donation when they visit their family doctor.
“It is important that family members discuss the issues and are aware of each other’s organ donation wishes – and are prepared to honour those wishes,” Professor Dobb said.
“People can register their consent to become an organ donor on the Australian Organ Donor Register but their families will still be asked to provide the final consent.
“Around 1600 people are on the organ transplant waiting lists at any one time. One organ and tissue donor can directly save or enhance the lives of 10 or more people.
“Organ donation is a discussion that families need to have,” Professor Dobb said.