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Organ donor rules show need for overhaul

***Media Release***

March 2008

Organ donor rules show need for overhaul

'Confusion between doctors and bureaucrats over rules for organ donors is just the latest debacle that has added to the many other failings of our organ donor system which keeps New Zealand at the very bottom of the developed world when it comes to the number of organ donors' says Andy Tookey of Organ Donor Lobby Group GiveLife NZ.

Telling a mother she could not save her baby's life because she was under the age of 21 was ridiculous. The whole population of New Zealand knew it, so why didn't the thousands of bureaucrats employed by the Ministry of Health know that? Why did it take the Minister himself to get involved, when it turns out that the age for being a donor is actually age 16 and not 21?

They have put this mother through hell for the past 8 months by telling her in July last year that she could not donate, it is only today she has learnt that she can. If it were not for the media and Michael Laws in particular highlighting this case the baby could have died and no one would have been the wiser. You have to wonder how many other people who didn't get into the newspapers have been through this nightmare?

There has been some 'buck passing' going on here, They have told the mother she can not be a donor, it makes the media, so it is blamed on a nameless,faceless committee who don't have all the same members as it did when the rule came out in 2002.

It now transpires that it was not a 'rule' anyway but a 'guideline' that did not have to be followed, so the transplant doctors could have given the go ahead anyway.

This is symptomatic of the many problems we have with organ donation which keeps us at the bottom of the world. Just because this case appears to have been resolved does not mean we should stop asking questions to sort out the rest of the mess that this system is in.

The Minister of Health has phoned me today to 'clarify some details' and has assured me that he is committed as the new incoming Minister of Health to improving our organ donor system. The Minister has invited me to meet with him shortly to discuss my concerns.


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