POLL: One in 6 die on organ wait list

One in six people in NSW who could be saved by an organ donation dies waiting for a suitable donor to become available.

Despite a multimillion-dollar campaign to make Australia a world leader in organ donation, the nation is still lagging behind many other developed countries.

New figures released last month show Australia is ranked 22nd in the world for organ donation, behind countries including the US (6th), the UK (17th) and world leader Spain.

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Brian Myerson, a transplant recipient and founder of not-for-profit group ShareLife Australia – which produced the data – said a nationally co-ordinated approach was vital. ‘‘Sadly, every year hundreds of people, in all age groups, die waiting for a transplant. The need in the community is growing, which is why major reform is vital.’’

He said the $151million reform initiative launched by the Federal Government in 2008 had not done enough to improve donation rates. However, a spokeswoman for the Organ and Tissue Authority, which was set up to oversee the reforms, said progress was being made.

‘‘In 2011 Australia achieved its highest donation and transplantation outcomes since national records began with 1009 transplant recipients from 337 deceased organ donors,’’ she said.

 ‘‘This represents a 36per cent increase on the 2009 outcome of 247 donors and a 9per cent increase on  the 2010 outcome of 309 organ donors.’’ 

The NSW government launched a strategy in August  to double the state’s organ donation rates, the lowest in the country.

‘‘The NSW government is on a mission to see NSW organ donation rates match, and ultimately exceed, those achieved by other Australian states and territories,’’ State Health Minister Jillian Skinner said.

Meanwhile, thousands, including Oak Flats grandmother Lorna Thomas, remain on the waiting list.

For Lorna’s story, and more information on government strategies, see Review, page 26, of Saturday's Mercury.

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