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One-step registration introduced to help increase cornea donation

16/02/2016
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Australians will soon be able to register as corneal-tissue and organ donors in less than ten minutes online, the federal health minister responsible for organ donation, Ms Fiona Nash, announced on 2 February.

Eight years after the Australian Government announced a programme to increase donation and transplantation, seven per cent of Australians are registered tissue and organ donors - 1.8 million people.

A further 4.3 million have at some stage signalled intent to become a donor but have not completed the paperwork required under the current system.

"Just 1.8 million of 24 million Australians are registered organ donors," Ms Nash said.

"Almost all Australians would like to be able to receive a donated organ if it was required to save their life. Yet the vast majority of Australians are not registered as organ donors. Every Australian can help improve Australia's organ donation and transplantation rate - they can register as an organ donor. If we increase the number of registered organ donors, we will save more lives.

"As of May, registering to become an organ donor will be a one-step, online process able to be completed in less than 10 minutes - no paperwork necessary. The government will run awareness campaigns including distributing the link on social media, but government alone can't increase the number of donors - we need Australians to register as organ donors.

"If this change results in the 4.3 million people who have previously signalled an intention to become an organ donor completing registration, we could quickly triple the donor pool and save more lives. However I hope far more people than that will register, and importantly, tell their families about their decision.

"In Australia, we worship our sporting stars and we rightly honour our war heroes, with memorials bearing their names.

"Organ donors are real heroes who save lives. Donor families give an amazing gift. Let's admire our organ donor heroes with the same passion we admire our stars in sport or music or whatever our particular interest is.

"Just one per cent of people die in circumstances which allow them to become an organ donor. An obvious way to increase organ donation is to increase the donor pool.

"I'm a registered organ donor and you can be too."

There are 1600 Australians on the waiting list for some sort of organ at any one time. Tragically, 50 Australians die every year waiting for an organ. The DonateLife audit from September 2015 shows family consent rates to allow donation to go ahead are 91 per cent when the deceased had registered as an organ donor, but are only 42 per cent when the deceased has neither registered nor discussed their wishes with their family.

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The independent review into the organ donation and transplantation sector, which will be released soon, praises the initiative, which was already in train when the review was commissioned by the federal health department.

Number of organ donors reaches record high in NSW

Organ donations have reached a record high in New South Wales, surpassing targets to jump 25 per cent in two years.

NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service figures released on 3 February show there were 127 deceased organ donors in 2015 - 25 donors more than the previous record set in 2013.

The number of donors, who allowed a total of 379 organs to be transplanted, also exceeded the set target for 2015.

State health minister Mrs Jillian Skinner credited her government's move to a national Australian Organ Donor Register, scrapping that of the Roads and Maritime Service's service, and the placement of donation specialists in targeted hospitals.

The state also saw an increase in tissue donations, including corneal and heart valve transplants and bone and tendon donations in 2015.

"Last year was a remarkable year for organ and tissue donation," Mrs Skinner said.

"At a time of immense grief and distress, a record number of NSW families chose to give the gift of life to someone in need.

¨There are more than 1600 Australians waiting for organ donations - nearly five times the number of donors.

While 1.8 million Australian are registered organ donors, less than one per cent of people die in hospital under the specific conditions that make an organ donation possible.

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