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Government Hides the Truth on Organ Donation

GiveLife NZ
24 April 2005

*****Press Release*****

Government Hides the Truth on Organ Donation

Answers to recent Parliamentary questions, and documents obtained from the Organ Donation Registry show that last year New Zealand again dropped to the bottom of the Western World when it came to the number of organ donors it has.

Last year New Zealand had 9.8 donors per million of population (dpmp) compared to Spain at the top of the list with 34.6 dpmp. Poland, who in 2002 were below New Zealand at 8.1 dpmp, went up to 14.6 dpmp in 2004.

Annette King in answers to a series of questions on organ donation revealed that there are currently 350 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. The Minister reveals that there is information and extensive data available for the transplants of Hearts, Lungs and livers, though incredibly she states information for the most transplanted organ, the kidney that the “information is not collected.”

Andy Tookey of organ donation lobby group GiveLife NZ could not believe the statement by the Minister of Health that information would be collected on all types of transplants with the ‘exception’ of kidneys so did his own searching and discovered there is in fact very extensive data on kidney donors and recipients.

“I could understand why she didn’t want to reveal the true figures after I had seen them.” said Mr.Tookey. “Though she gives a figure of 350 on the waiting list for a kidney transplant that is not a true representation of those who need a kidney transplant. At the beginning of last year there were 1699 people with renal failure and were on dialysis.”

“The figure on dialysis of 1699 represents 424 persons per million of population and when you consider that New Zealand has just 9.8 organ donors per million it doesn’t take much to work out that there is a lot of work to be done.”

A further question asked how many people have died whilst on the organ transplant waiting list. The Minister again replied that “This information is not collected in respect of patients waiting for kidney transplants.” Though according to the Australia and New Zealand Organ Donation Registry (ANZOD), in 2003 (figures not completed yet for 2004) There were 263 people who died whilst on dialysis.

In 1999 the number of new patients worked out at 98 pmp in 2003 it had jumped to 112 pmp with Maori and Pacific Islanders making up 882 of the 1699 people on dialysis.

Mr.Tookey also expressed concerns that even though ‘directed donation’ (Grant Kereama ‘directed’ that his kidney go to Jonah Lomu) is completely legal when you are alive or dead the Minister states “in practice organs would not be accepted for donation if there were conditions attached.”

“It seems a shame that with organs being so scarce that they are prepared to throw away perfectly good organs and let others die when not only is directed donation legal but they don’t even have an official policy on it, so it appears to be up to someone at the time deciding that they have higher ethics and morals than the rest of the population.”

- The list of Parliamentary Q&A on organ donation can be viewed here:
http://www.givelife.org.nz/page.cfm?s=2424,2442,2836,3326,100005497

- Organ donation data available from Australia and New Zealand Donor Register (ANZOD)
http://www.anzdata.org.au/ANZOD/ANZODReport/anzodreport.htm

*****ENDS*****

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