Leading organ donation specialists warn Australian politicians are letting people die because they are afraid of being seen as authoritarian.
The acting state medical director for organ and tissue donation David Simes said Australia could eliminate organ waiting lists with a higher percentage of registered donors, but the system needed to change.
“If we went up to 100 per cent consent rate, we would obliterate our waiting lists of every organ system in Australia,” he said.
Dr Simes and Liver Centre WA head Luc Delriviere said they had posed registration solutions to the government but were yet to see these put into action due to politicians’ unease over public perception.
“When people go voting, they could be asked ‘what do you want to do about organ donation?’” Professor Delriviere said.
“You see the two-metre square thing every time you go voting – to receive a small form next to it would not be much more formidable.
“There’s hundreds and hundreds of possibilities and occasions for organ donation registration that are being missed in Australia.”
Professor Delriviere said politicians had the power to make decisions that would save lives.
For instance, the lack of regional hospitals and intensive care units in Western Australia created higher risks of death in country areas but were not a priority for administrators.
“It’s just a political decision of what you spend your money on and if you think that’s a huge priority for your population then you put the time and the money and the people in place to get there,” he said.
Those in regional and rural areas remained under more stress as they relocated their lives and families to receive the vital surgery in major cities despite not knowing when an organ would be available, or if they would survive the wait period.
Professor Delriviere said those who chose not to move to Perth were at greater risk of missing out on a transplant and had to rely on flights being available in the time frame needed to complete successful transplantation in Perth.
According to the Organ and Tissue Authority, the average organ donor registration rate in Australia is currently 33 per cent with Western Australian at 37 per cent.
South Australia set the standard at 68 per cent and was the only state in which the community could register on their driver’s license.
Dr Simes said going to donatelife.gov.au was the only way for West Australians to register their wish.