Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Organ donation drop

Shepparton’s Allan Turner, who started Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation to promote organ donation awareness after his daughter’s sudden death in 2004, has expressed his disappointment after it was revealed organ donation rates dropped last year.

DARREN LINTON January 23, 2013 4:30am

Australia’s organ donation rate rose five per cent last year, but the Organ and Tissue Authority fell short of a key target.

Shepparton’s Allan Turner, who started Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation to promote organ donation awareness after his daughter’s sudden death in 2004, said the result should have been better.

When Zaidee died aged seven years, she was the only child in Victoria under the age of 16 years to become an organ donor.

In that year, 130000 Australians died, but only 218 generously donated their organs, while last year there were 354 donors.

‘‘It is not a great outcome considering the money they have invested,’’ Mr Turner said.

‘‘The government has failed dramatically in its task.’’

Mr Turner said Zaidee’s Foundation, which uses rainbow shoelaces to promote awareness of organ donation, had lost all federal funding.

He questioned whether the strategy of the Organ and Tissue Authority — which operates under the banner Donate Life — was working.

‘‘We were funded by Donate Life, but last year we had our funding cut,’’ he said.

‘‘We are the most proactive out there in promoting organ donation.’’

Of 76600 people who died in Australian hospitals last year, only 790 were in intensive care.

Donations were requested from 710 of those and the families of 410 people consented, resulting in 354 eligible donors.

‘‘From a family that has been through it you can understand why they would say no, it is the worst time of your life,’’ Mr Turner said.

Donate Life maintains it is on track to lift organ donation rates to target levels by 2015.

There were 1052 transplant recipients last year, an increase of four per cent on 2011.

The donor figure translates to 15.6 donors per million population, a slight increase on 2011, but still shy of the Organ and Tissue Authority’s 16.3 donors per million population 2012 target. The authority, established by the Federal Government in 2009, hopes to lift Australian donor rates up to a maximum of 25 donors per million population by 2015.

Organ and Tissue Authority chief executive Yael Cass said several Australian states and territories had reached or exceeded the 2012 target individually last year.

‘‘That shows what Australia can achieve,’’ Ms Cass said.

Transplant advocacy group ShareLife said although donor rates had increased it was disappointing Australia still lagged behind world leaders.

Spain, Portugal and Croatia have donation rates above 25 donors per million population, with rates in Spain and Croatia exceeding 30 donors per million population.

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