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Media release - Health Select Committee

21 September 2004

Media release - Health Committee

Briefing on a national organ donation register

The Health Committee considers that a dedicated national organ donor register should replace the current system for registering organ donation preference. In a previous report on the organ donation issue the committee found the current system of collecting information on the driver's licence system is too inflexible.

As part of the Government's response to this report, the Health Committee was asked to further consider the issue of a dedicated national organ donation register, and consequently received a briefing from the Ministry of Health on the matter. The committee has today presented its report on this briefing to the House.

The committee makes several recommendations as a result of this further exploration, including that the Government proceed to investigate the option of an indicative register that records organ donation wishes, independent of its review of the regulation of human tissue and tissue-based therapy. "We consider that the current organ donor shortage in this country needs to be addressed immediately, independent of the current policy and legislative process already underway," committee chairperson Steve Chadwick said.

The committee also considers that more effort should be made to gauge public opinion on the issue of organ donation, in particular by conducting random sample research on awareness of, and attitudes to, organ donation options and methods for recording preferences. "The committee feels it is important that wider public opinion on this very personal issue is explored," Mrs Chadwick said.

The committee has also recommended that the Government review the resources to be provided to Organ Donation New Zealand, to ensure that funding is allocated to community and family education. "As noted in our earlier report on this issue, we consider that 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. We believe that community awareness and education is imperative in encouraging family discussion about organ donation."

ENDS

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