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Organ Donors families to get compensation

***MEDIA RELEASE***

LifeSharers
4 November 2008

Organ Donors families to get compensation

Families of members of the LifeSharers scheme are set to get a $1,000 contribution if the member becomes an organ donor and their organs are donated to a fellow LifeSharers member.

LifeSharers, launched earlier this year by organ donation advocate Andy Tookey aims to increase the number of people who are prepared to be donors by giving members first priority to other members organs. The scheme known as 'directed donation' is legal in New Zealand.

Tookey has been lobbying the government to pay the funeral costs of organ donors. A move that the government has rejected.

"It is the least that the government could do." says Tookey. "Many more people would be prepared to be donors if they thought it would take the financial burden off their families. It would also be a small recognition of the donors contribution to society and would get many others off expensive treatments. It would actually save the government a heap of money." He said.

The government has not only rejected the idea but also told LifeSharers that it would be illegal for them to offer to pay the funeral costs of organ donors.

This has not put off Tookey who says that Otago University has a surplus of whole body donors and their expenses are paid.
Partial donors are not compensated and there is a shortage.

"The associate Minister of Health advised me that; "Otago do not pay funeral costs but 'disposal costs' and that 'disposal costs' are not an inducement but funeral costs are."

Therefore to keep within the Minister's definitions LifeSharers intends to offer $1,000 as a contribution to 'disposal costs' of a donor.
"How the family uses the money for 'disposal' will be up to them." says Tookey.

LifeSharers hopes to substantially increase the contribution in the future as more sponsors come on board.

A set date of the launch of the scheme and further details will be announced shortly.

For more information on how LifeSharers works visit: www.lifesharers.org.nz


About LifeSharers

The LifeSharers premise is that by directing that your organs should be offered first to other registered organ donors it makes the allocation of organs fairer, as people who are prepared to be donors should be given priority over those who refuse to be donors if both find that they need an organ.

At the beginning of a week 'John' may have been of a long held view that there is no way he would be an organ donor. Then he may be diagnosed with liver failure and will go on the waiting list for a new liver. 'Julie, who may have expressed a lifelong willingness to be a donor and encouraged friends and family to declare their intentions to donate will enter the waiting list with the same terms and the same waiting time as John. He may even get a transplant before her."

'That's not fair.' says Tookey. 'If everyone thought like John there would be no organs available even for the others who refuse to donate but are happy to accept an organ if they need one. At the moment it's like awarding the lotto prize to someone who didn't even buy a ticket.'

As well as making the system fairer, LifeSharers aims to increase the number of registered donors by members directing that their organs go to other members first.

'If we get one million members then why wouldn't you join if it gives you access to 1 million hearts and livers and 2 million lungs and kidneys that you wouldn't have access to if your not a member? The more people who join the more people who benefit, even non members.'

LifeSharers is free to join and everyone is welcome. There are no medical restrictions to joining.

Visit www.lifesharers.org.nz for more information.


ENDS

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