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Organ donation report released

Organ donation report released

A dedicated national organ donor register is needed to replace the current system, a Health Committee report has found. Currently information is collected as part of the driver licensing process. However, the committee has found this system is too inflexible.

The committee today presented to the House its unanimous report on the petition of Andy Tookey and 1,169 others, which requests that the House take action to address the organ donation shortage in New Zealand. The committee was concerned by New Zealand’s low donation rates, and by the inadequacies of the current system for recording donor preferences. Since 1993, the New Zealand donor rate has fluctuated between 34 and 46 donors a year. As many as 350 New Zealanders are on waiting lists for organ transplantation, mostly for kidneys.

‘The committee feels it is important that the national organ donor register be separated from the driver licence system,’ committee chairperson Steve Chadwick said. ‘People are not thinking about organ donation when they are applying for a licence. These decisions need to be made in a more informed way,’ Mrs Chadwick said. ‘The system for recording wishes needs to be able to record more than just yes or no. Some potential donors would allow only some organs to be taken. The system needs to be able to recognise this.’

The committee has also recommended the Government fund both ongoing education for health professionals on organ donation, and an appropriate national public awareness campaign aimed at increasing the organ donor rate. ‘One of the shortcomings of the current system is that it does not encourage active discussion about organ donation between potential donors and their families. Many people are not aware that even if they indicate on their driver licence that they wish to be a donor, next-of-kin can effectively overrule that decision after death,’ Mrs Chadwick said. ‘We think that if families have discussed the option of donation in advance, it will make it easier for families to make these decisions at such a difficult time in their lives.’

A national agency should be responsible for organising, supporting, auditing, and reporting on the national organ donation system, the committee recommends. It also should coordinate the collection of organs and to train and educate those carrying out the collection.

The committee’s report can be viewed at http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/cgi-bin/select-reports

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