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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 10 March 2016) . . Page.. 1007 ..

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Transplantation and Anatomy Amendment Bill 2016

Debate resumed from 18 February 2016, on motion by Ms Fitzharris:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (5.29): The Canberra Liberals will be supporting this bill. It clarifies arrangements in the ACT around who can remove what organs and tissues for transplant. It removes doubt in an area of medicine that requires urgent action which should not be compromised by any legal uncertainty. It is important to note that this bill does not change the circumstances around which permissions are given, or not, by an individual or their family for organ donation.

It is also important that this bill does not require the coroner to give permission for a body to be released after death prior to death but enables it at the discretion of the coroner. The benefit of this legislation is that more organs and tissue could more quickly be made available for transplant. The benefit will be that potentially organ and tissue transplant recipients will be the beneficiaries. Ultimately, that will mean that we will save lives.

This bill amends one act, the Transplant and Anatomy Act 1978, in two ways: in terms of whole-organ removal, the act currently allows only doctors to remove whole organs for transplant use and appropriately qualified health officers who are not doctors to remove only parts of organs, for example, heart valves. It was written this way since only doctors have the expertise to remove whole organs that are to be transplanted.

The bill allows for circumstances where it is desirable for appropriately qualified health officers who are not doctors to remove a whole organ to better preserve components of the organ where it is only those components of the organ that will be subsequently be used in a transplant. For example, a whole heart is removed to better preserve the heart valves.

The other issue that is being amended is that of the actions of coroners. For a range of nominated deaths, the coroner is required to hold an inquest and must issue a certificate before releasing a body after which organ harvesting can proceed. In the event that a person’s death can be anticipated—for example, in a situation where relatives are engaged to turn off life support for a family member—the bill enables the coroner’s permission to be given in advance. This could ensure that organs are not lost for want of not being able to contact a coroner at an inconvenient time or an inappropriate time.

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