Change text size

The Benefits

In Australia, having access to some of the world’s best doctors is one benefit of organ donation but there are many more:

  • Health system: Medicare
  • Potential to save multiple lives
  • Potential for transplant recipients
  • Economic benefits


Medicare Australia is an Australian Federal Government agency and plays an integral role in the Australian health sector. Its objective is to assist in improving Australia’s health outcomes.

Its health programs include:

  • Medicare -- Australia's universal health insurance program (including the compensation recovery program for Medicare and nursing home benefits)
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  • Australian Government 30% Private Health Insurance Rebate
  • Special Assistance Schemes (including Bali 2005 Special Assistance, London Assist, Tsunami Healthcare Assistance Scheme and Balimed)
  • Australian Childhood Immunisation Register
  • Australian Organ Donor Register
  • General Practice Immunisation Incentives Scheme
  • Practice Incentives Program
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs (including the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme), the Office of Hearing Services and the Department of Health Western Australia.
  • Family Assistance Office in partnership with other Australian Federal Government agencies.

Medicare Australia works in partnership with the Department of Health and Ageing to achieve the Australian Government's health policy objectives. Its activities are conducted within the government policy framework set by the Department of Health and Ageing, Department of Veterans' Affairs, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and relevant legislation.

The Australian Organ Donor Register is administered by Medicare Australia on behalf of the Australian Government and provides a simple way for people to record their consent (or objection) to becoming an organ and/or tissue donor. The Australian Organ Donor Register is Australia’s only national organ and tissue donor register and serves as a lifeline to the people on those waiting lists.


Signing on to the Australia Organ Donor Register is just the starting point. Talking about your decision and explaining your choice to your family is the next step. These critical steps have the potential to save lives -- Australian lives, just like ours.

Currently there are 1866 Australians waiting for an organ transplant. These people’s lives can be changed by a simple decision to join the Australian Organ Donor Register. Many people think only major organs can be donated, but there are also other parts of the body that can make a difference. 

Drawing 1 provides a clear description of the body parts suitable for transplantation.

Transplant recipients are not the only ones who gain from donation. Their family, friends and local community also benefit. 

Grieving donor families may also gain comfort from their choice to donate, knowing it has dramatically improved quality of life for at least one person. Many families say that knowing their loss could make a difference made the grieving process easier.


Once a transplant recipient has recovered, the opportunities to make positive contributions to society are endless. In our communities there are:

  • Scientists,
  • Pilots,
  • Olympic skier,
  • Nurses,
  • Emergency Services - Paramedics, Fire Fighters, Police
  • Teachers,
  • Plumbers,
  • Barristers,
  • Musicians,
  • Actors,
  • Photographers,
  • Parents,   etc.

Around the world there are people who have gone on to achieve amazing feats, or resumed their lives. The benefits and potential for tra nsplant recipients is truly limitless.  

With the advancement in medical technology and management of organs during and post donation, recipients have not only a dramatically improved quality of live, but there is also a decrease in the side effects resulting from transplant process and anti-rejection medication.


The direct economic benefits to the Australian economy and health system of reducing the transplant waiting list are unquestionable.

Ongoing treatment for patients on the waiting list is not the only cost. There are also socio-economic effects such as loss of employment/income, the breakdown in relationships, absenteeism from education, an increase mental illness, physical and psychological changes, and loss of quality of life.


The Benefits Pic 1

In 2006 Kidney Health Australia commissioned a report – The Economic Impact of End-Stage Kidney Disease in Australia.

The report had 2 objectives:

  1. To estimate the health sector costs (and benefits) of providing renal replacement therapy (RRT) in accordance with current clinical practice for current and future patients (to 2010) with end-stage kidney disease.
  2. To assess the relative costs and benefits of certain proposed changes to clinical practice

It also set out to answer key health policy questions:

  1. What are the likely health sector costs (in present dollar values) of treating current and new cases (to 2010) of end-stage kidney disease?
  2. What are the likely additional health care costs and benefits resulting from an increase in the number of patients receiving a transplant?

Health sector costs

This table presents total health sector costs for end-stage kidney disease services — representing the cumulative health sector spend in discounted, present value dollars. All cumulative costs and benefits, and cost-effectiveness analyses presented in the report use a 5% discount rate.

Conservative estimates of growth in demand for renal replacement therapy services show that the cost to the Australian health sector for providing RRT services in 2010 will be between $4.26 billion and $4.52 billion. These estimates exclude the following expenditures:

i)                    The cost of providing RRT services to Australians under 25 (less than 4% of new cases);

The cost of providing services for co-morbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes;

ii)                   The indirect or non-health sector costs associated with end-stage kidney disease.

Costs & benefits of transplantation

Each year, dialysis treatment for a person with end stage kidney disease costs $84,000. The cost of transplantation from a live donor is $75,000, with ongoing treatment for the recipient with medications costing about $11,000 annually. In the case of a deceased donor, the cost of a transplant is $65,000 with ongoing treatment for the recipient costing about $11,000 annually.

Steady-state model estimates

Year                          2005                        2006                        2007                         2008                        2009                         2010

Total Cost                $1,169.5M               $1,793.5M               $2,419.4M               $3,040.1M               $3,653.1M               $4,258.5M

Linear growth model estimates

Year                          2005                        2006                         2007                        2008                         2009                        2010

Total Cost                $1,181.3M               $1,827.9M               $2,487.7M               $3,152.9M               $3,820.8M               $4,517.4M

These are direct costs regarding the transplant. However, what they do not take into account is the benefits to society and the economy. Once a person has received an organ transplant, more often than not they are able to return to a relatively 'normal' lifestyle, which includes returning to employment, playing sport, travelling and family life. In some case, recipients have gone on to start a family themselves.

These benefits to society have a positive impact far broader than the direct financial impact on the health system.


 The Benefits