Supporting better organ transplant outcomes in Canberra

Organ-donation

People who choose to make an organ donation can have peace of mind the process will be more efficient under proposed legislation introduced to the Legislative Assembly last week.

Usually in cases where a person is expected to die, the coroner’s consent is required to release their body for organ donation. However the amendments to the Transplantation and Anatomy Act introduced last week will allow the coroner to direct that coroner’s consent will not be required for organ donation in appropriate circumstances.

The aim of this amendment is to get the best outcome for the person who will ultimately receive the organ or tissue transplant by speeding up the retrieval of organs where possible.

Until now, the coroner has only been able to provide consent once a person has passed away. For the best outcome, organs must be removed within five minutes of the person’s heart stopping, so if there are any issues with contacting the coroner, the organs or tissues may not be useable or the transplant outcome may be affected.

Importantly, the next of kin still make the final decision about whether organs are donated, but this proposed change will simply help to ensure donation decisions can go ahead as quickly as possible.

The legislation is being introduced ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Gift of Life DonateLife walk on 24 February which will see over 5000 people gather to walk around Lake Burley Griffin to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation in Canberra.

Members of the Spencer family and their friends will be walking in memory of their loved one William ‘Bill’ Spencer who at 26-years-old fell off his skateboard hitting his head which left him on life support in October 2014. The nature of his injuries also made him the perfect candidate for organ and tissue donation.

Bill’s heart was part of a world-first breakthrough when it was successfully transplanted after circulatory death and his organs saved the lives of five people. 

For more details and to register for the Gift of Life Donate Life Walk visit giftoflife.asn.au/walk2016. Event participation is free.