Organ and Tissue Authority records major increase in organ donations in Australia

Thankful: Double-organ transplant recipient Patricia Scheetz of Bangor, is grateful that a donor gave her a life-saving gift.
Thankful: Double-organ transplant recipient Patricia Scheetz of Bangor, is grateful that a donor gave her a life-saving gift.

More people are generously donating their organs, giving new life to those who need it the most.

Australia has recorded a major increase in organ donations and transplants, following a record rise in donor consent rates in the past year.

The 2018 performance data released by Organ and Tissue Authority this week shows increases in national donation and transplant rates.

 The results place Australia in the top 15 countries in the world for organ donation.

“With the greatest number of people donating their organs, a record 1544 Australians received transplants in 2018, 144 more than the previous year,” the minister responsible for the Organ and Tissue Authority, Ken Wyatt said.

“This means that in the 10 years since the national program started, organ donation has more than doubled, saving almost twice the number of people through transplantation.

“We salute from the bottom of our hearts the 554 selfless and generous Australians who have given the gift of life in the past year, especially their families, who play a crucial role by confirming their loved one wanted to be a donor.”

The federal overnment introduced fast online organ donor registrations in July 2017.

“One of the key factors driving the increase in donations is a significant rise in the consent rate, from 59 per cent in 2017 to 64 per cent in 2018, the highest rate ever recorded,” said Mr Wyatt said.

“I am confident outcomes will continue to rise as consent rates increase. Organ and tissue donation is now firmly embedded in our hospitals with over 275 donation specialist nurses, doctors and support staff covering 96 hospitals across Australia.

“Records show that 75 per cent of families say ‘yes’ to donation when a donation specialist is involved in providing support and information to family members in the hospital.

“With around 1400 Australians currently wait listed for a transplant, and around 12,000 people on kidney dialysis, it is crucial that everyone thinks about donation, talks to their families and registers on the Australian Organ Donor Register.”

The NSW Organ & Tissue Donation Service figures show that there were 151 organ donors last year in NSW. 

The number of organ donors is a 12 per cent increase from 2017 and a 122 per cent increase from 2009, when the National Reform Program was first introduced. 

In NSW, 388 lives were saved through an organ transplant due to the generosity of deceased donors and their families. 

NSW figures show that there was also a boost in tissue donations in 2018, including 694 corneal graft transplants in order to restore sight.

A spokeswoman for the NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service says St George and Sutherland hospitals had “fantastic outcomes” for transplants in 2018. 

Bangor’s Patricia Scheetz had a double-organ transplant of a kidney and pancreas in 2011, and a bone tissue donation for a foot reconstruction in 2018. 

She is hoping to launch a restaurant in Sutherland Shire that is a branch of her charity, The Sweetest Gift, which promotes organ and tissue donation, and aims to employ people who have had life-saving transplants.

She says the increase in Australians choosing to become donors is great.

“It’s a really positive message and shows that Australians take the gift of life very seriously,” she said.

“Most importantly, they are having that conversation with their families. It’s a difficult one to have but even harder when you’re not around to say what your wishes are. It gave me eight years so far of extra life.”