Thousands walk the walk for organ donation

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Early morning silhouettes of Gift of Life walkers streaming across Kings Avenue Bridge. Photo: Ian Meikle

IN near-perfect walking conditions, thousands of Canberrans walked between the bridges around Lake Burley Griffin this morning (February 13) to raise awareness for organ donation.

After a spirited speech from Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, the anticipated 5000 participants in the annual Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk set off into the cool, Canberra sunrise, a determined, energetic trail of bright pink caps and white T-shirts (and dogs on leads).

“CityNews” was out in force for the walk, reporting back to Tim Shaw’s 2CC breakfast program, which was broadcasting live from the starting line at Regatta Point.

Now in its 13th year, Gift of Life president David O’Leary says the lake walk increases awareness and encourages people to sign up to the Australian Organ Donation Register.

“CityNews” was in the throng… from left, editor Ian Meikle, writer Kate Meikle and managing director James Anderson

In 2018, according to the organ and tissue authority’s recent report, more Canberrans said “yes” to organ donation than ever before, with 21 people from the ACT donating their organs and giving the gift of life to 67 people.

David says progress has been made over recent years, but with 1400 people at any one time waiting on the national transplant list, more can be done to make sure people register their intention to become an organ donor, should they be in the situation to become one.

He says there have been significant increases in numbers of people prepared to donate and registrations have gone up 50 per cent since the government started the Donate Life program in 2008.

“At the moment, the consent rate is at 60 per cent but we would like it to be at 70-75 per cent. It is possible but it doesn’t happen without registration,” he says.

David says that registration is important so families are made aware of their loved one’s wishes to donate their organs.

“In cases where people have registered and they are suitable donors, 90 per cent of cases proceed in organ donation,” says David.

Register consent to be an organ or tissue donor at donatelife.gov.au

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