The most recent data on organ donation in Australia shows more than three million Australians have recorded a legally valid consent registration on the Donor Register, but 18 – 24 year olds make up just four per cent of the total, the lowest demographic in the register.
World Organ Donation Day is on August 13 and more than 1800 people in Australia are currently waiting for a transplant.
DonateLife WA director Simon Towler says there’s a big focus on increasing donor registrations amongst young people.
“I think you have to be careful in interpreting the data. Obviously less people in that age group die and is a portion of the population we don’t expect to see in large numbers,” he says.
“It is though relevant that in different jurisdictions, the number of people in that age group who are registered on the Australian organ donor register is quite variable.
“It’s interesting to note that in South Australia, where you can still register to the organ donation registry through the driver’s licence system, they have the highest rate of younger people being registered,” Dr Towler says.
DonateLife is the national transplant program body led by the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA), and their recent DonateLife Week 2022 campaign urged local hospitals and businesses to take active roles in promoting donor registrations through posters and branded coffee cups.
Health Consumers’ Council WA executive director Clare Mullen says peer groups play a large role in creating conversations about organ donation, specifically for Aboriginal people and other culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups.
Ms Mullen says families should be encouraged to have open conversations about organ donation, because it’s important to create the right conditions for people to have calm and considerate conversations about such a sensitive issue.
“Creating safe spaces for unhurried conversations about what can be quite a difficult topic, can be important. We also found that what we may think of as taboos in some cultures may not be as taboo as we think,” she says.
If a registered organ donor passes away, their family members and next of kin still have to give consent to donate their organs.
Health Consumers’ Council WA is a non-governmental organisation helping to promote the voices of people who use health services in WA. As a recipient of the Organ and Tissue Authority’s 2021 Community Awareness Grant, Health Consumers’ Council ran sessions last year to discuss organ and transplant donation with Aboriginal and CALD communities.
The Great Registration race by DonateLife is on until the end of August. You can register as an organ donor here.