Whilst the majority of Australians are generally willing to become organ and tissue donors, less than 1% of people die in the hospital in the specific circumstances where organ donation is possible. Here in Australia, your family will always be asked to confirm your donation decision before the donation can proceed so, if you fall into that 1% and you do wish to be an organ and tissue donor, it is very important that you let your family know.
Richard Branson recently shared the following tweet.
With intrigue we followed the link and, whilst the article is aimed at and based in the UK, the sentiments expressed are just as relevant to us here in Australia.
“It shouldn’t have to take a brush with death – like the one I experienced the other week when I flew head-first over the handlebar of my bicycle – to start thinking about organ donation. Millions around the world live with failing organs, and their only hope is the gift of life only an organ donor can give. Many are fortunate to receive a transplant and start a new life, but thousands die every year (including 1,000 people in the UK alone) before an organ becomes available.
It doesn’t matter how you begin to talk about organ donation, it’s just really important that you do. Most people support organ donation, but research shows that half of all adults in England have never talked to anyone about it, and even less have told someone that they’re a registered organ donor.
People give many reasons for not having talked about it. Some of the most common are that it didn’t come up; that people don’t really want to talk about death; or that they just haven’t got round to it yet.
If families don’t know their relative’s decision, they probably won’t agree to a donation in case of a person’s death. This changes if the decision is known. Overall, families are more likely to agree to organ donation if they know it’s what their relative would have wanted. And many families say donation helps with their grief. They feel enormous pride in knowing their relative went on to save lives after they died.”
In Australia, you no longer register your organ donation wishes on your driver’s licence - you'll notice this as your licence next comes up for renewal. Instead, you must add your name to the Organ Donation Register. A flyer for the Organ Donation Register will be posted out to you along with your licence renewal form.
Further to this though, we agree with Richard and believe it's vitally important that you have the conversation with your loved ones to make sure that your wishes are known to your family. Because this can be a difficult conversation to bring up, the Government's Organ and Tissue Authority has put together some helpful information on how to raise this subject with your loved ones; you can access that information here. We also suggest that you consider completing an Advance Care Directive that spells out your wishes, because hopefully it will be a long time before your family has to remember the conversation that you've had with them; the Advance Care Directive will be able to offer clear guidance should the need arise.
Our Estate Team are happy to answer any questions you may have around completing an Advance Care Directive so please don't hesitate to contact us if you would like to know more.