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Deceased Organ Donation Strategy Doesn’t Go Far Enough

The Deceased Organ Donation Strategy launched by the Minister of Health today is good as far as it goes – but it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough, according to Kidney Health New Zealand chief executive Max Reid.

“Kidney Health New Zealand was happy to have a hand in developing the Strategy, but what the Minister has announced today lacks the commitment required to resourcing the Strategy’s implementation,” Mr Reid says.

“It is encouraging to see signs that our deceased organ donation rate has been beginning to increase over the past couple of years, but it is still one of the lowest in the developed world. And that is not good news for the nearly 700 New Zealanders with end stage kidney disease on a growing transplant waiting list. Having a national strategy specifically designed to increase deceased organ donation rates offers a real opportunity to bring about a much needed change – particularly in terms of raising public awareness around deceased organ donation and its importance.

“To say ‘the devil is in the detail’ is perhaps an over-used phrase. But in this case it’s true. While the fundamental priorities identified in the Strategy are sound – strengthening the existing register, strengthening practice and capacity in Intensive Care Units, developing a public awareness campaign and establishing a new national body – there is no implementation plan, no indication of how or where or when the proposed national agency will be established, and no overarching timeframe.

“Of equal concern is the lack of any credible funding commitment on the Minister’s part. New Zealand’s ICUs are already running at capacity. The Strategy identifies increasing that capacity in order to better manage deceased organ donation as foundational. That the Minister has only allocated $500,000 towards building that capacity is incomprehensible. Clearly the Ministry of Health has not costed the actual level of funding required – and that lack of analysis to support the Strategy is itself of concern.

“Kidney Health New Zealand calls on the Government to establish the new national agency as a matter of urgency, so that a detailed implementation plan can be developed, costed and appropriately funded. Anything less would be to undermine the clear potential of the Strategy, and represent a betrayal of the hundreds of New Zealanders whose lives depend upon an increase in deceased organ donation and transplantation,” says Mr Reid.


Kidney Health NZ (formally the Kidney Foundation) is a national organisation supporting kidney patients and their families by way of education, advocacy and research across all areas of kidney health - including organ donation and transplant, dialysis, early detection and prevention of chronic kidney disease. For further information or advice, contact the Kidney Health Helpline – 0800 KIDNEYS (543 639)

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