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28 July 2015
The federal Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash, today visited the ICU facilities at the Melbourne hospital, The Alfred, to speak with doctors and patients involved in organ donation and transplantation.
In the lead up to DonateLife Week (August 2-9), Minister Nash acknowledged that while there is an ongoing need for people to agree to donate organs after death, Australia’s hospitals must be well prepared and staff trained to successfully undertake the complex process of supporting potential donors and their families to proceed with organ and tissue donation.
“The Alfred has been a consistently high performing hospital under the national reform program for organ and tissue donations,” Minister Nash said.
“In 2014 The Alfred achieved one of the highest annual outcome of organ donors of any Australian hospital since national records began in 1989 (27 deceased organ donors).
“The Alfred has done some extraordinary procedures resulting in more people benefiting from organ donation including developing a process for automatically identifying potential tissue donors so that the opportunity for donation could be made available to as many patients and their families as possible.”
Minister Nash said not only is The Alfred a leader in the field of organ and tissue donation, it is in a unique position to see the benefits that transplantation can provide.
“Today I have been impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the staff involved in these most delicate and challenging situations. I commend them for their commitment, compassion and professionalism.
“The Alfred stands out as a premier hospital for organ and tissue donation and for transplantation and I am wanting all hospitals to make every effort to be prepared, receptive and ready when the rare opportunity comes for organ donation.”
Minister Nash said it is clear from speaking with the staff that it is much easier for families, in these very tragic circumstances, to agree to organ donation if they had prior knowledge of their loved ones’ wishes.
“We know that family discussion and knowledge of donation decisions make a real difference when the rare opportunity for donation arises.
“Research shows that where the deceased person hasn’t made their wishes known, many families decline the donation request,” Minister Nash said.
“When families have no prior knowledge of the donor’s decision and there is no Australian Organ Donor Register registration, the consent rate is far too low.
“So that is why the emphasis on the forthcoming DonateLife Week is for families to start the conversation and I am urging Australians to consider if you or a loved one would accept a life-saving transplant from someone who dies, have you said ‘yes’ to saving the lives of others?”
Minister Nash took the opportunity today to meet with a donor family who have had to make this decision in traumatic circumstances.
About DonateLife Week (Sunday 2 – Sunday 9 August)DonateLife Week is the national awareness week to promote family discussion and registration of organ and tissue donation decisions.
For information visit:
For online and television media:
You can access the DonateLife Week 30 sec Community Service Announcement (CSA) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msV9JFly7uM. This TVC was produced pro bono by HYPE TV in collaboration with DonateLife Tasmania. It features Australians sharing how a transplant saved their lives such as liver transplant recipient Frank, “Before my transplant I was faced with little more than a few weeks left to live, now I’ve got the world at my feet again.”
Media contact: Kay McNiece, 0412 132 585