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