A Guide to Organ Donation in Australia

Organ donation is one of the most precious gifts someone can make.

Ariella Birnbaum Ariella Birnbaum
ARTICLE2 MIN READ
A Guide to Organ Donation in Australia

Organ donation is one of the most precious gifts someone can make, as it throws a lifeline to those requiring life saving organ or tissue donation. Too often, it’s a decision put on the backburner, but never actually acted upon. If you’ve ever considered becoming an organ donor, but need more information read on…

The most important steps to take when making the decision to become an organ donor include registering to be an organ donor and informing your family and loved ones of your wishes. Anyone over the age of 16 can register.

The waitlist

Is organ donation important? Well, to help put things into perspective, there are currently around 1,800 people on the waitlist for an organ transplant in Australia. Each and every person on the waitlist has been thoroughly assessed and met strict eligibility requirements.

The average time a donor recipient waits for their required organ or tissue varies between 6 months and 4 years. However, some can wait even longer. In addition to these figures, there are an additional 13,000 Australians on renal dialysis who may very well need a kidney in the future.

How is the recipient chosen?

Whilst, some may think gender, religion, status or culture plays a role in determining who receives the organ donation, it doesn't. The person with the greatest medical need receives the transplant. Organs including the liver, pancreas, heart and lungs are matched according to size, blood group compatibility and urgency. Kidneys are matched according to tissue compatibility and blood group. You may be surprised to learn that 1 organ donor can remove as many as 7 people from the waitlist.

The donation process

The donation process relies on a collaboration between the donor, families and specialist medical and nursing teams who perform the procedures. The way in which a person dies, impacts the overall donation process. Whilst tissues and eye donation may occur up to 24 hours after death, organ donation can only occur when someone dies in a hospital as the organs need to be functioning well when transplanted.

At all stages, the medical team do their utmost to ensure respect, dignity and care of the deceased is always maintained. Furthermore, the greatest of care is taken when performing the act of tissue or organ removal, this means those families wishing to arrange an open casket can still do so.

Donation to science vs. organ donation

Many people may also consider donating their body to science via a university donation program. In this way they can help to further research and discovery of medicine and science in Australia. However, it should be known that if a person’s organs are part of an organ donation, the university is likely to reject their body.

The wrap up

If organ donation is something you have considered, perhaps now is the time to act and register online, through the app or through a written letter. To help you prepare your assets and estate before you die, start your Will today.

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