Family chat can make difference when it comes to organ donations

A SIMPLE chat to loved ones could end up saving lives.

This week is DonateLife Week, a national campaign that promotes organ and tissue donation, and people are being urged to discuss their wishes with their family.

Local donation specialist nurse Emily Daley said the majority of people supported organ donation, but when it came to potential donors' families consenting to donation, only about half did so.

She said research had shown that families were much more likely to give the go-ahead when they had discussed and knew their loved one's decision on donation.

The next of kin of any potential donor will always be asked for their consent, even if the person is on the Australian Organ Donor Register.

While 92 per cent of people say they would uphold their loved one's wishes, just 56 per cent say they know what they are.

Miss Daley said Australia had a high rate of successful transplants, but a low rate of donors.

In 2012 Australia's population stood about 22.5 million, but there were just 354 donors.

While there was more opportunity for tissue donation, Miss Daley said there were strict limitations on who could donate organs just 1 per cent of people who died in hospital were eligible for organ donation.

Potential donors must die in an intensive care unit, must be on a ventilator, and must be declared brain-dead for donation to occur.

Miss Daley said there were a lot of myths and misconceptions about organ donation in the community, which also hindered the number of possible donors.

These range from people assuming they are too old or unhealthy to donate, to people fearing they will not be given full care in a critical situation if they are registered as a donor.

But Miss Daley said people's assumptions about their age or health could be untrue, and donation was only considered when nothing else could be done to save the person's life.

Even those who have signalled on their driver's licence their intention to donate have been urged to list on the national register, which ensures their decision can be checked at any time.

Miss Daley will be at Gloria Jean's in Tamworth every day until Friday between 11am and noon to talk to people about organ donation.

To register as a donor, visit humanservices.gov.au/organ donor, call 1800 777 203 or visit a Medicare office.

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