Change text size
-A
A
A+

99 Reasons to Celebrate

06 June 2010

The Federal Government’s reform of organ and tissue donation in Australia is reaping dividends with a significant jump in donation and subsequent transplant rates last month.

Transplant Australia, the national community stakeholder organisation representing those waiting for transplants and recipients, today welcomed figures that showed that a total of 99 Australians had their lives saved through transplantation in May.

“We are essentially at historic or unprecedented levels. For this to be achieved so early in the implementation of the Federal Government’s reform package is welcome news to the 1,700 people currently on transplant waiting lists,” according to Transplant Australia Chief Executive Officer, Chris Thomas.

“We need to put these increases into context. Over the past three years we have averaged 63 transplants per month in Australia. To achieve 99 transplants in one month – which is actually double the number of transplants for the month of April – is simply stunning. That is the highest number of transplants since August 2008 and that month was already influenced by an increased focus on donation.

“While the Federal Government deserves significant credit for introducing the reform package and establishing a national authority, the real people that deserve praise are the families of the 30 people who died and became donors. We thank them for their courageous decision at one of the most difficult times in their lives.”

Mr Thomas said this decision was often made easier if families had discussion organ and tissue donation and decided for themselves prior to it becoming an urgent decision next to a hospital bed.

“We would encourage all Australian families to have the conversation now so that everyone’s wishes are clearly understood.”

This is the message of the current advertising campaign being conducted by the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority.

Mr Thomas was confident this campaign would contribute to further increases.

“We have shown over many years that the positive media and publicity generated from focusing on the lives saved by donation and now participating in the transplant games contributes to increased donation rates. Positive stories showing the benefits of donation give other families the confidence to make this decision,” he said.

Mr Thomas said it was important to look beyond the raw statistics and understand the lives of these people and their families had been transformed.

“In May eight people suffering from heart failure, perhaps cardiomyopathy brought on by a severe virus, received a new heart. These people would be dead by the end of the year without this ultimate gift,” he said.

A total of 24 patients received new livers. Some of those would have been children born with a congenital condition called bilary atresia where the bile duct is blocked. It is most likely they will now lead full and healthy lives.

Twelve patients received a new set of lungs arrived. Many would have been born with the genetic condition of cystic fibrosis. They will be able to breathe clearly for the first time in years.

Five patients suffering from long-standing and severe diabetes received a pancreas. And importantly, 56 people whose weekly routine involved hooking up to a dialysis machine, received a kidney transplant.

NSW was the standout state with 14 donors in May – three times its monthly average over the past 10 years of just four and a half donors.

Greg Davis and Shane Moran are amongst those who have benefited from the increase in transplantation rates over the past three years.

Greg Davis was waiting for two years before he had a kidney transplant on December 12, 2008. After being ill with chronic kidney disease for ten years, Greg reached a point where he only had 15 per cent kidney function left. He went onto dialysis and was told he could expect to wait seven years for a transplant. To his amazement it was only two years before he got the call. 

Greg says: “The timing was incredible as I had become extremely ill on dialysis – I had to stop working and had no energy to do anything much at all.”

Greg is overwhelmed with appreciation to his donor and says it took him a while to come to terms with the fact that someone had been so generous to make all the difference to his life. He is now able to spend time playing with his 10-year-old son and live a ‘normal’ life. He says “Compared to dialysis, it’s a dream”.

Another kidney recipient who may not be here without the extra focus on donation rates is 37-year-old Shane Moran.  Shane received a kidney at age 19 from his brother when he desperately needed one after years of kidney disease.  Unfortunately after 10 years the kidney rejected and Shane had to return to dialysis for seven years until he eventually got the call in December 2009 and received a second chance – a new kidney.

Shane says: “I am so fortunate, my life has changed dramatically after those long years waiting on dialysis. I cannot thank my donor and the staff at RPA enough for the life change this has given me.”

Transplant Australia is the national community stakeholder organisation representing those waiting for transplants, recipients, donor families and living donors.

For further information please contact Chris Thomas on (02) 9922-5400, (0425) 353-893 or chris.thomas@transplant.org.au.

 99 Reasons to Celebrate