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Bill a "Slap in the Face" for Your Right To Choice

*****FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*****

7 November 2006

Organ Donation - Government Bill a Slap in the Face for Your Right To Choice

"The Human Tissue Bill put forward today by the Government's Health Minister, Pete Hodgson shows how out of touch he is with the wishes of the majority of New Zealanders." Says GiveLife NZ Spokesman Andy Tookey.

Minister Hodgson in his press release said: "The Labour led Government has taken a major step forward in addressing New Zealand's low rate of organ donation."

But Andy Tookey of GiveLife NZ states: "This review has taken five years to get off the ground and complete with many unnecessary deaths in the meantime.

Further scrutiny of the Bill shows that after all this time what he is actually announcing is a 'status quo.' He then re-announces a previous announcement on an organ donor register but fails to mention that the Government rejected a register twice in the past, and only did a U-Turn because of mounting public pressure."

"If anything they are announcing a major step backwards by still allowing families - even distant relatives the opportunity of overturning a donors' express wish.
What is the point of establishing a new organ donor 'consent' register when, just like the driving licence it will mean nothing if others can overturn your wish?" Said Tookey.

The Government bill allows for a family veto as Pete Hodgson says it is for "the cultural and spiritual needs of the family." Mr.Tookey argues that "If the person signing up as a donor has no qualms about their cultural or spiritual needs, then it is not up to others to invoke 'their' culture or religion upon their relative after their death. If people don't want to be a donor because of their culture, or for any other reason, that's fine they just don't sign up on the register, But forcing the culture card on every other person in the country so that their wishes may be overturned by other who felt they owned them is not what 80% of the population want according to a Colmar Brunton Poll.

Dr.Jackie Blue MP currently has a Private Members Bill in front of the Health Select Committee. The proposed register would allow people to sign on the register as donors. It would also allow people to elect not to be a donor in any circumstances. A third option would be for the individual to 'defer the decision to their family.'
All options would be legally binding.

Mr.Tookey says, "This covers everybody and ensures their wishes are carried out whether they want to be a donor or do not want to be a donor, or do not even want to think about it, at least it is their autonomous decision, not the Government's proposal which replaces an individual's decision made whilst in sound and calm mind with one that favours the emotionally fraught decision of a relative made in a time of deep distress, and often with no, or little background knowledge."

• In an audit of organ donations in New Zealand it revealed that 45% of families say no to their relative being a donor.
• 43 US States have enacted a law that family members can not veto the wish of a registered donor
• 26 European Countries have the same Law
• Australia and the UK have recently enacted the same law
• Last year NZ had its lowest ever recorded number of organ donors - Just 29 donors
• This year to date the number of donors is even lower than our lowest ever rate of last year
• Around 400 people are on the transplant waiting list at any time
• 400 is not the number of people who would benefit from a transplant that runs into thousands. Just 400 make it onto the list.

ENDS

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