Page 603 - Week 02 - Thursday, 17 February 2005

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Every day we thank God for the miraculous second chance at life our princess has been given. Not a day goes by where we don’t think about her donor family and silently thank them for their most wonderful, selfless gift. What better gift could there ever be than the gift of life?

These are just two families, from the hundreds across Australia, whose lives have been changed forever by organ donation. Both demonstrate how significant the simple act of registering as an organ and tissue donor is. I urge everyone in the community to support Australian Organ Donor Awareness Week next week. It actually starts tomorrow. As I said at the commencement of my remarks, it is not a subject that many people want to talk about. Talking about death is taboo in our western society, but I think it is an important subject for us to raise in the community.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (3.59): I thank Ms MacDonald for putting this matter on the notice paper. I guess it is not just about supporting Australian Organ Donor Awareness Week; it is also actually about supporting the system by registering as an organ donor. I assume that Ms MacDonald, through her interest, is signed up as an organ donor. That is a great thing, because I certainly am. I have my card here. Assembly members, and those public servants who are no doubt listening in today, should dial 1800 777 203 to sign up.

It is actually about the action; it is not about supporting the week. I think we all support the week and we all support the notion, but more important is actually taking the step to go out and do it. A lot of us think we should but we never get around to it. That is a shame. Part of the problem also with the system at the moment is that under the old system you were given a nice little sticker that you put on the back of your drivers licence. It is a little D. It wears off and you can hardly read it. A lot of people actually think that that also indicates legal consent. I am told that it does not. It is an indication to medicos at the place where you might be taken after an accident or an illness that you would like to donate your organs, but it is not actually consent. So if you really are interested and you want to support the week, the best thing you can do is to dial that number and make sure you join up because you are actually then put on the register. You will sign a form that gives your legal consent for them to take your organs. That is the important thing.

The other important thing is to have the conversation with your family. It would be confronting enough to be faced with the death or possible death of a loved one or to have a loved one on a life support system with no hope of recovery without then having to have a discussion about whether or not your husband, brother, son, lover, mate or friend actually wanted to donate his or her organs. It is really important that you have that conversation. I have had the conversation with my wife, Robyn. I have said, “You can take the lot. I don’t care. I won’t need them.” If I am going to go that way, it would be great to have the ability to spread some joy through something that will obviously be very sad. So the important thing is, firstly, sign up, folks. Secondly, make sure that your family, friends and loved ones know. I suspect that often the medical staff at a hospital, particularly in an emergency room, are not going to pressure a bereaved family to hand over the rights to vital organs. In most cases, at that stage it is beyond your ken or your ability to do it yourself, so it is really important that you have that discussion with your family.

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