Page 606 - Week 02 - Thursday, 17 February 2005

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class of people at the expense of another is not something that this Assembly would endorse, I am sure.

One of the great values of Australian Organ Donor Awareness Week is that it encourages people to give thought to the issues involved for them and their loved ones prior to any death which might give rise to the question of donation. If the decision about donation has already been made and registered, the family of a potential donor is relieved of the additional burden of making this decision at an often serious, stressful and difficult time. I urge all to use this week to think about this matter and to talk with their families and loved ones about their views.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.12): I rise in support of the matter raised by Ms MacDonald. I commend her for seeking to increase the level of awareness of the importance of promoting organ and tissue donations during Australian Organ Donation Awareness Week and I urge all who can to consider becoming organ and tissue donors. It is indeed sad that, if organ donor rates are not increased, one person in every five on the waiting list will die while awaiting a transplant. The average waiting time to receive a transplant is now three to five years. However, this depends on factors such as the nature of the illness, blood group and weight, and obviously not every donor organ is suitable to be transplanted into every recipient.

The average age of a person waiting for a transplant is 43. However, of those waiting for a liver, 15 per cent are under the age of 20. The only way we are able to reduce this waiting list is to dramatically increase the number of donors registered. Whilst over 90 per cent of all Australians say they support the principle of organ and tissue donation, as we have heard, not everybody is actually enthusiastic enough to come to the party and actually register. In 2004, six ACT residents became organ donors. In the period from January to October 2004, two ACT residents received kidney transplants and about 20 other transplantations resulted from these donations.

The quality of life of those agonisingly awaiting a transplant is invariably poor, as is that of their families. As they wait they have the realisation that, with each passing day, the prospect of living a normal life is fading. Transplantation is able to overcome a wide range of threatening and debilitating illnesses, such as heart, kidney and liver disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, loss of sight and leukaemia. If the number of donors available for the program were to increase, then obviously the waiting times would be reduced, the quality of life for the recipients and their families immeasurably enhanced and the numbers who die waiting for transplants would also be lower, if not eliminated entirely.

Sadly, as speakers before me have mentioned, even though some potential donors have made the decision to make their organs available and recorded their intentions on the Australian Organ Donor Register, they fail to advise their families. The main reason for families refusing to allow the donation to proceed is that they were unaware of their relative’s decision. So, as has been mentioned before, it is vital that a decision to donate be discussed with the family and the intention of the donor made clear. Almost half the families of all registered donors declined to allow the transplant to occur.

The major reason given is that they were unaware of the donor’s intention, as it had never been discussed with them. This results in the donor’s wishes not being carried out and a potential recipient being denied the opportunity of receiving the lifesaving

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