Media Release

Families Urged to Discuss Organ Donation


Kidney Health Australia

... the average wait for a kidney transplant is four years with seven years not being uncommon.

Less than 1 in 5 Australians (17%) have had memorable discussions with their loved ones about their organ donation wishes according to a recent survey by the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority.

The findings have prompted a call by Kidney Health Australia to Australian families to put organ donation discussions on their agenda.   

Anne Wilson CEO and Managing Director of Kidney Health Australia said only 6.5% of the 10,000 people on dialysis receive a kidney transplant.

With the average wait being four years and in many cases up to seven years lifting the level of organ donations is vital.  

68% of all transplants in Australia involve the kidney.  

Ms Wilson said the number of people going onto dialysis is expected to escalate from 10,000 to 20,000 in the next ten years.

"Because of Australia's ageing population and the increasing prevalence of diabetes, it is vital to increase the level of organ donation from deceased donors.

"The survey also showed a positive attitude to organ donation with 98% of Australians agreeing that organ and tissue donation has the potential to save and improve lives.  The majority (77%) of Australians are willing to become organ and tissue donors."    

However despite this the majority of Australians (83%) have never discussed their donation wishes (37%), not really discussed their donation wishes (15%) or only had a brief discussion (31%).   

Dr Tim Mathew, Medical Director of Kidney Health Australia said the long wait for a kidney transplant averaging four and up to seven years has a dramatic impact on patients and their families both emotionally and financially. Many patients are forced to travel some thousands of kilometres a year to access dialysis services in country and regional areas to stay alive. 

"1.7 million Australians have some level of kidney disease and do not even know it."

 Dr Mathew said, whilst a person may have registered as an organ donor they have often not discussed it with the family resulting in the deceased persons intent to become a donor not being fulfilled. Discussion at a family level plays a very important part in potentially lifting organ donation rates in Australia for in the final analysis the family will be asked for their permission to proceed with donation.   

  Media Enquiries:
Ron Smith, National Media Communications, Kidney Health Australia Mobile: 0417 329 201