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Gap found between 'intent' and 'consent'

7 August 2015

Almost three in four Queenslanders want to become organ and tissue donors after they die.

But less than one in four Queenslanders has recorded their decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register (AODR).

New research commissioned by the Organ and Tissue Authority for this week's DonateLife Week (2-9 August) campaign highlights the significant gap between people's intention to donate and the number who have actually consented to donate.

Organ and Tissue Donation Service State Medicl Director Dr Leo Nunnink said there is tremendous value in both discussing your decision with family, and in recording that decision on the AODR.

"Family consent to organ donation is about 90% when their loved one has registered to become an organ and tissue donor,” Dr Nunnink said.

“It's about 77% when they've discussed their donation wishes with family prior to death.

"However, that consent rate falls rapidly to around a half (56% in 2014) when families are unsure of their loved one's organ donation decision."

Mr Nunnink said there was a real human cost behind these statistics.

“Families are more likely to feel conflicted if they aren't sure of their loved ones wishes. On the other hand, families who have discussed organ and tissue donation can feel proud to have followed through on their loved one's hope to save lives after they die."

The state-by-state national survey of community attitudes showed that 84% believe that organ and tissue donation is important, with 74% considering organ donation “the ultimate act of generosity”.

The research also showed that 73% of Queenslanders would say yes to a life-saving transplant and 70% are willing to become donors.

"Every donor has the potential to save or improve the lives of seven other people,” Dr Nunnink said.

“So if we can improve our consent rate to reflect the 70% who say they are willing to become donors then we can successfully get people off the waiting list."

DonateLife Queensland is taking organ donation to the streets this week, with a DonateLife photobooth set up in the Queen Street Mall today; electronic overhead signs; streetside banners; magenta lighting of the Story Bridge; and coffee cup promotions across the State designed to prompt the ‘chat that saves lives’.

This week is a great opportunity to tick organ donation off your to-do list at last. Other findings were:

  • Organ and tissue donation is considered to be the ultimate act of generosity for 75% of Australians, with the chance to save lives being the greatest motivator.
  • The majority of Australians (85%) rate organ and tissue donation as important because one day they or a loved one might need a transplant.
  • Three in four Australians would say ‘yes’ to receiving a life-saving transplant, and 84% would want a family member to receive a transplant if they needed one.
  • As of June this year, almost 20% of Queenslanders (361,722 people) had registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register.
  • This compares to 22% in New South Wales and 25% in Victoria.
  • Women are far more likely to have registered, with about 227,000 female registrations compared to 135,000 males registered in Queensland.

For more information go to donatelife.gov.au. Or visit your local Medicare Service Centre (1800 777 203).

Pictured: Metro South Health donation specialist nurse Angela Donato.

Last updated 7 December 2015
Last reviewed 7 August 2015

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