DESPITE unfavourable weather conditions, local and federal politicians including Federal Health Minister, Peter Dutton, Assistant Health Minister, Fiona Nash, the Opposition’s Mark Dreyfus and ACT Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, joined an estimated 4000 members of the ACT community to enjoy a leisurely stroll around the lake for this morning’s Gift of Life Walk.
At any one time across Australia, 1500 people await organ donation but less than one per cent of those people who die in hospital are eligible to donate their organs.
President of Gift of Life and organ recipient himself, David O’Leary, says DonateLife Week is encouraging everyone to sign up to the national organ and tissue donations register, but more importantly to engage with family and friends about their preferences when it comes to donation.
“Throughout Australia and the States and Territories it is the policy of the government that’s reflected in legislation that hospitals will seek the consent from a potential donor’s family to proceed with transplantation,” said Mr O’Leary.
“So we encourage people who sign on to the national organ donor register to have a discussion with their family so that everyone knows what their wishes are in respect to organ donation.”
Mr O’Leary said that while there still needed to be an improvement in communication, the message of organ donation was starting to sink in.
‘The [organ donation] consent rate throughout Australia has been around 55-60 per cent, we think that can go much higher, ultimately up to about 75 per cent. But where there has been a family discussion and people know their loved one’s wishes the rate of consent for donations goes up to about 90 per cent or over,” said Mr O’Leary.
“All of that is a good reason why we need to keep pressing to raise community awareness and also to improve the way that our hospitals handle the whole processes of organ donation.”
Minister Nash said occasions such as the Gift of Life Walk should encourage families to start the conversation about donation as it was crucial and could significantly transform the lives of others.
‘So this week is all about making sure we have the discussion around what our intentions are when it comes to organ donation,” said Senator Nash.
“In the last year or so we’ve had around 1100, recipients and nearly 400 donors, people who know how important it is to families right across the country,” she said.
“I encourage you all to have the discussion this week and tell people you know, tell your friends and raise the issue because it’s so vitally important.”