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More Countries Introducing Organ Donor Registers

***Media Release***
GiveLife NZ
12 April 2008

More Countries Introducing Organ Donor Registers

Wisconsin, USA has become the latest in a long list of countries and US States to introduce an Organ Donor Register to improve their organ donor rates.

Wisconsin is not content with already leading the USA in the percentage of people who are potential organ transplant donors. "A bill recently signed into law should help to significantly increase that number," the US media reports today.
The measure, called the Anatomical Gift Act, establishes a donor registry that people can sign onto at any time — not just when they renew their driver's license. It also lowers the age of consent for organ donation from 18 to 15.
The bill also clears up a grey area in cases where it is unclear if the person wanted to be an organ donor.

But the most important part of the new law is the creation of the database of registered donors. This will make it easier —and quicker — for medical professionals to determine if a person wished to donate organs.

Hong Kong announced the introduction of an organ donor register last month, and follows a string of other countries and US States to introduce registers.

The New Zealand Government recently announced that they would be going back on their 2005 pre-election promise of a register on the grounds that "There is no evidence that registers improve the organ donor rate." The Ministry of Health's Chief Medical Advisor further announced that, 'We' (the New Zealand public) "are not capable of making the decision to be a donor," a comment that the group that controls the amount of organ donors NZ has strongly agrees with.

"It's ironic that the countries with high organ donation rates say that registers work. New Zealand which has the lowest organ donor rate in the developed world say registers don't work, who would the public rather believe?" said GiveLife Director Andy Tookey. "One would presume that all these other countries did extensive research before embarking on introducing new registers."

"If there is no evidence that registers work, then why did the Government announce that they were going to start one, with that knowledge, just prior to the last election?" People less cynical than me would know the answer to that question."

"Apathy is not an option for the public on this issue." says Andy Tookey. "In 2006 there were just 25 organ donors, a rate of just 6 donors per million of population. At the same time the number of 'new' patients entering renal failure programs was 117 people per million of population. At this rate it won't take long before everyone in this country will know of a family member, friend or acquaintance in need of a life saving organ."
Minister of Health, David Cunliffe told Parliament earlier this week that "a diabetes epidemic is about to break like a wave over this country." In spite of this there were only 41 cadaver kidney transplants performed in 2006 and the level of transplants for all organs was at its lowest level in 14 years.
Later this month GiveLife will be launching a 'Major New Initiative' that aims to increase the organ donor rate, and give the public a choice in organ donation. Previous Minister of Health, Annette King has previously said that New Zealanders 'should not' be able to have a choice when it came to donating their organs to others who would do the same for you.

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