Media event date: 
20 December 2019
Date published: 
21 December 2019
Media type: 
Media release
General public

With many families and friends spending time together over the Christmas and New Year break, they are encouraged to discuss their wishes around organ and tissue donation.

Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government Mark Coulton said it was timely to have a face-to-face discussion during a time when people often came together to celebrate giving.

“Signing up to be an organ or tissue donor is one of the greatest gifts of all, and one day your organs or tissue could go on to improve the lives of many sick Aussies,” Minister Coulton said.

“With around 1,500 Australians currently wait listed for a transplant, and a further 11,000 on dialysis, this is a way that people can make a significant difference to the lives of fellow Australians.

“If you want to be an organ and tissue donor when you die, your family needs to know – it’s as simple as that.”

Minister Coulton said main reason that families decline donation is because they were unsure of the wishes of their loved one once they had died.

In 2018, nine out of ten families agreed to organ donation proceeding when their loved one was a registered donor. This dropped to five out of ten when their loved one was not registered and the family had no prior knowledge of their wishes.

“If you’re still looking for a resolution for the New Year, I urge you to think about signing up. You only need to set aside one minute, have your Medicare card handy and go to,” he said.

Minister Coulton encourages Australians to count themselves in, not rule themselves out, and leave the decision if you are able to be a donor up to the doctors when the time comes.

“You are never too old to register and having a few drinks and or eating unhealthy won’t stop you from being a donor,” he said.

“Even if you can’t become an organ donor many people go on to become eye, skin and tissue donors.

“A cornea transplant can restore sight, a skin graft will heal a severe burn, and tissue can help repair genetic defects.”

Through organ donation, transplant recipients are gifted a second chance at life - having an active role within their family, returning to work and planning for a future.

“In the last decade more than 11,000 Australians have received an organ transplant thanks to 4,000 donors and their families,” Minister Coulton said.

To register as an organ and tissue donor and to find out more, go to