Give the gift of life with organ donation

Heart donation

Donate…and give the gift of life

It’s Donate Life Week (26 July to 2 August), where we are encouraged to not only join the Donor Register but to chat to our family about our wishes in relation to organ and tissue donation.  So we thought we’d have a look at what organ donation is, and how you can sign up to give the gift of life when the time comes. 

We’ve gathered together some information from the Australian Government Organ and Tissue Authority, the governing body concerning organ and tissue donation in Australia.

You can find out more on their website and join the Donor Registry online – all you need is a Medicare card and a couple of minutes of your time. 

Transplant surgery

Why is organ donation so important?

Simply put, it saves lives.  According to the Australian Government there are around 1,700 Australians on the waiting list for a transplant.  Another 12,000 are on dialysis and would likely benefit from a kidney transplant. Last year (2019), more than 12,000 Australians received, and benefited from an eye or tissue donation.

Most Australians say they are willing to donate, but only a third are registered.  Just the combined actions of signing up on the register, and telling your family what your wishes are greatly increases the chances of consent for use of your organs or tissue after your death.

It’s also important to note that the old system of registering via your driver’s licence no longer exists – you need to be registered on the Donor Registry

Organ donation

What can you donate?

Most of us know that organs can be transplanted.  That includes organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas and pancreas islet.  But did you know that you can also transplant tissue, heart tissue, bones, skin and eye tissue?

That includes things such as:

  • Heart valves
  • Veins
  • Bone
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Skin
  • Parts of the eye.

Imagine being able to help to heal someone’s fracture, repair their teeth, provide a skin graft for burns or restore sight!

Age no barrier to organ donation

Who can donate?

Pleasingly, most of us are eligible to donate something.  Many people in their 70’s and 80’s have made donations to save the life of another.  It also may not matter that you were in poor health yourself, or perhaps didn’t lead the healthiest lifestyle during your life – you may still be able to make a valuable contribution.  All major religions support organ and tissue donation as well (there’s a fact sheet about this on the Organ and Tissue Authority website) 

You can even donate while you’re still alive.  Often these living donations will go to a beloved family member and could be a kidney, or a section of your liver. 

Family meeting about organ donation

What can you do now?

There are two simple things you can do now to ensure that your donation will have the maximum impact.

  1. Sign up to the Donor Register.
  2. Speak to your family about your wishes – perhaps even write them down so when the time comes your wishes can be enacted by your family clearly and quickly.

This website does not provide medical advice.  It is intended for informational purposes only.  It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment.  If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately dial Triple 0 (000).