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Don’t slacken effort on organ donation drive: AMA

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The AMA has urged the Federal Government to remain “actively engaged” in efforts to boost the nation’s organ donor rate.
AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said efforts in recent years to educate the community about organ and tissue donation and promote its benefits had helped lift donation rates.
But Dr Hambleton warned recent progress could stall unless the Abbott Government built on the momentum generated by its predecessors.
There were a record 354 organ donors last year, and 1053 recipients, according to the organisation DonateLife, but hundreds more people were left on lift support after missing out on a vital transplant because there are not enough donors.
Dr Hambleton said the recent improvement in the donation rate, which has reached 15.6 donors per million population, was encouraging, but much more was needed.
“Australia is a world leader for successful transplant outcomes, and there are currently around 1600 people on the Australian organ transplant waiting lists,” the AMA President said. “We can and must do better if we are to save more lives and improve more lives.”
“It is important that the Government remains fully and actively engaged in the ongoing campaign to lift Australia’s organ and tissue donation rates.”
Experts attending the international Organ Donation Congress in Sydney late last month said the issue of obtaining family consent was critical to boosting donor rates.
Senior faculty members of the US Gift of Life Institute told the Herald Sun one of the most effective ways to boost donation rates was to train health workers on how to discuss organ donation with family members.
The Institute said that in the two years since it had started conducting training programs for Australian health workers, more than 600 had received training and the family consent rate had risen from 50 to 64 per cent.
The Congress heard about Croatia, where the donation rate has soared since the turn of the century from just 2.7 donors per million in 2000 – one of the world’s lowest rates – to 35 donors per million.
Head of Croatia’s Institute for Transplantation and Biomedicine Dr Mirela Busic told the Herald Sun the biggest factor driving the turnaround was improved engagement with families.
“The most important thing is providing support and training [for] specialists on how to approach the family,” Dr Busic said.
Adrian Rollins

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