The Dilemma of Organ Transplantation: Opting In or Opting Out

By Megan Alessandrini.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

624,900 Australians have added their names to the Australian Organ Donation Register (AODR) maintained by the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) to give a total number of registrants of 5,659,855, an increase of 400,000 on the previous year. Yet our organ donation rate in 2004 was just 11.0 donors per million population (dpmp) and dropped to 9.8 in 2006. This is well below the donation rates of most many comparable countries, including Spain (35.1 dpmp), France (22.2 dpmp) and the United States (21.4). While countries such as these have higher donation rates, Australia’s donation rate has varied little from 10 in 1998 to 11.0 in 2004, dropping by 6% in 2005 and a further 1% in 2006 (Australians Donate, 2007). As of January 2007, 1780 Australians were awaiting transplantation, an increase of more than 100 from 2005. Currently, waiting time for a transplanted organ ranges from 1 to 3 years, depending on the organ required (Australians Donate, 2005), and 1 in 5 of those waiting will die before they receive a transplant. If Australia could lift its donation rate even marginally, it would benefit thousands of Australians who remain critically ill waiting for organs. Most recently consideration has been given to the controversial ‘opt out’ legislative model, and allowing the sale of organs. Multi-cultural Australia has not welcomed these proposals with enthusiasm. There is widespread speculation that the key to solving the problem is the co-ordination process within hospitals, rather than an inherent resistance to the procedure.

Keywords: Organ Donation, Death, Health Policy

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.137-144. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 610.837KB).

Dr. Megan Alessandrini

Lecturer, School of Government, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Dr. Megan Alessandrini has been actively researching in the non-profit sector since 1998, before which she was employed in the Australian public sector as a policy analyst. She was the chief investigator in an ARC Linkage grant of $215,000: ‘Reading the Social Future of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service’. Her PhD research, completed in 2001, utilised comparative method and both empirical and qualitative data. Dr. Alessandrini is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Third Sector Research Inc (ANZTSR). She has presented numerous refereed papers at a number of internationally recognised conferences. She has conducted numerous consultancies and contract research projects in the field over the last ten years. These have predominantly been focussed on the third, or community/ non profit sector. She has had two refereed articles published in Third Sector Review in 2002 and 2005, one each in Webology, International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences in 2006, and in The International Journal of Humanities and Transfusion Medicine Reviews in 2007.

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