The Organ and Tissue Authority urges all Australians to consider donation and discuss the decision with their families as part of the DonateLife campaign
The majority of Australians say they support organ and tissue donation, but there still exist a number of misconceptions about the religious and cultural elements of the process.
These questions and uncertainties are one of the key reasons people are reluctant to make a decision about donation or to share their choices with their family.
Many people think they are too old or not healthy enough to donate, or that donation will disfigure the body.
“While the majority of Australians are supportive of organ and tissue donation, we found that there was a need to make culturally appropriate information available to CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) communities to assist in decision-making,” said CEO of the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA), Yael Cass.
According to the OTA, 40 per cent of Australians don’t know if their religion supports organ and tissue donation and only 36 per cent of Australians feel confident they know the donation decisions of their loved ones.
To go some way in redressing this, the OTA has produced a range of materials in 9 languages, including Hindi and Punjabi, outlining the organ donation message and providing the facts about the religious and cultural implications.
Age is not a barrier to donation, and people who smoke, drink or don’t have a healthy diet can also donate.
Organ donation is specialised surgery, performed by highly skilled health professionals, and the donor’s body is always treated with respect.
Religious and cultural leaders from across the Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish faiths have all provided support to the OTA.
DonateLife Week, this year held from 2-9 August, is the national awareness week to promote organ and tissue donation in Australia.
The theme for 2015 is ‘Have the chat that saves lives’.
It is important for people to talk with their family about their donation decision and register with the Australian Organ Donor Register.
“It is rare for a family to decline the opportunity for donation if they know their loved one was willing to become a donor,” Yael Cass said.
One donor is able to transform the lives of ten or more Australians, so a conversation about donation today could one day save the lives of many.
As part of this year’s campaign, the Organ and Tissue Authority is using the social media hashtag #sayYESsavelives to spread awareness and encourage further discussion among the community.
Read the organ and tissue donation fact sheet:
A person of any age, gender, ethnicity or religion could one day need a life-changing organ or tissue transplant. Indeed this has come to the fore with the upcoming film Force of Destiny, which premiered at the recent Melbourne International Film Festival.
The movie about organ donation, made by veteran Australia film maker and noted Indophile Paul Cox, himself a transplant recipient, is a timely reminder of the need to discuss our donation decisions with loved ones. This film will be worth a watch, also for its Indian links!
We’ve come a long way from the first successful tissue transplantation in 1823 when a skin graft, from one location on the patient’s body to another part of the boy, was conducted in Germany.
It wasn’t until 82 years later, in 1905, that the first successful human-to-human organ transplant, a corneal transplant, took place in what is now the Czech Republic.
Australia began its first corneal transplants in the early 1940s in Sydney and Melbourne and the first successful (living) kidney transplant took place in 1965 in Adelaide.
Throughout the 1980s, Australia pioneered successful heart and kidney (deceased donor) transplants, and is today considered a leader in pioneering liver transplantation.
In 2014, just over 1000 Australians received an organ transplant due to the generosity of 378 organ donors and their families.
Nearly 4,000 tissue donors enabled more than 5,500 tissue transplant recipients to receive a tissue graft.
If you would say yes to a life-saving transplant, have you said yes to becoming an organ and tissue donor?
For more information visit donatelife.gov.au
How to #havethechat that saves lives
Next time your family sits down for a meal together, mention that you’ve been thinking about registering as an organ donor, and ask them what their thoughts and wishes are
When you hear about someone who has been a donor, needs a transplant or has had a transplant – through friends or colleagues, on TV, radio or in a newspaper article – use their story as a way to introduce the topic with your family.
Set up a group message or online group chat with your family, so that everyone can make their donation decisions known at the same time.
Share your organ donor status on Facebook, by adding “organ donor” as a Life Event on your Timeline. Use this activity as a way to prompt a conversation with your loved ones.