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One giant leap for govt. a small step for mankind

**********Media Release**********

One giant leap for the government, one small step for mankind

''Would you subject yourself to the pain, suffering, constant coming and going to hospital for tests and replacing your weekly wage for $165 a week?'' That is what the government are expecting you do under their compensation for donors package announced last week, Says Organ Donor Campaigner, Andy Tookey.

“I asked them to pay compensation, not their bus fare. Apart from losing wages from time off from work there are additional costs to the donor by volunteering their kidney. There are many months of travelling back and forth to the hospital for tests both pre and post operation. Some tests will require you to stay overnight in Auckland, at a hotel, at your own expense. If the government were serious about this they would make sure the donor did not go out of pocket at all.” Said Mr.Tookey

“The Minister of Social Welfare said that they were “careful not to offer an inducement to donate organs.” At $165 a week there is no chance of that. I am surprised he managed to keep a straight face when he announced his master plan.”

To help increase the number of donors desperately needed in New Zealand Mr.Tookey has launched a petition on his website (www.givelife.org.nz) to stop families over riding the wishes of donors. He will present the petition to Parliament during their review of the 1964 Human Tissue Act later this year.

Mr. Tookey’s inspiration for the campaign for organ donor reform was inspired by his three year old daughter, Katie, who will need a liver transplant in order to survive. He was dismayed to find that New Zealand has one of the lowest organ donor rates in the world.

He wants New Zealand to follow Australia’s announcement that as of July this year donors’ wishes will be legally binding. Mr. Tookey dismisses claims by the organ donor service that families ‘rarely’ veto the wishes of the donor. “Last year there were 100 potential donors, but families only gave consent for 40. The balance that is missing is due to the doctor’s not asking the families. If the donor has made an express wish why should the family be able to veto it? That is if the doctors bother to ask in the first place. Remove those barriers and it will increase the rate” he says.

“This is also a core reason why we need a donor register,” he says, “We need to know the current wishes of the potential donor, not what they may have put on their driving licences years ago without any prior information. Getting people on the register will involve a lot of public awareness and advertising – something the government has refused to do since it has been in power, citing that there is no evidence that it will improve the organ donor rate.” Mr.Tookey dismisses that argument. “The countries that do well in organ donor rates say public awareness is imperative. New Zealand with the worst donor rates say it isn’t – who would you rather believe? I could give you many examples where public awareness drives up the rates. The Nicholas Green incident was the most notable1 “

Since the publicity of Jonah Lomu getting a transplant, inquiries to the Kidney Foundation for people wishing to be live donors has gone from 30 a month to 10 a week. The same is happening in Australia after the death of David Hookes it was revealed that he was an organ donor.

Romania, not a first world country is to spend the equivalent of NZ $200,000 this year on public awareness. In contrast, in reply to a Parliamentary question Annette King admitted not a single cent has been spent on it her in the past four years.

1. A seven year-old boy from California, Nicholas Green, was killed by highway robbers in 1994 while vacationing in Italy with his family. His parents agreed to donate his organs and corneas, which went to seven Italians waiting for transplants. Reg and Maggie Green spoke openly to the media, with no bitterness, about their loss and decision. The world took the story--and the Greens--to its heart. In the first few days after his death, the number of people signing organ donor cards in Italy quadrupled. Donations there last year were almost triple the rate they were in the year before he died.

Source: Nicholas Green Foundation - www.nicholasgreen.org

**********ENDS**********

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