Discussing donation

Decided about becoming an organ and tissue donor?

Everyone has their own reasons for deciding whether to become an organ and tissue donor. It is important that the people close to you understand those reasons. Your family need to know your decision because they will be asked to confirm your donation decision before proceeding with donation.

Families that know each other’s donation decisions are more likely to uphold them. Families that do not know the decision of the deceased are much less likely to agree to donation.

You may think you are too old or unhealthy to be a donor. Or that your religion doesn’t support organ and tissue donation. These are common myths and misconceptions.

Discover the facts about organ and tissue donation. This will help you make an informed decision about whether to become an organ and tissue donor. You can register your decision online at the Australian Organ Donor Register (www.donorregister.gov.au), call 1800 777 203 or complete a form at any Medicare branch.

 You still need to discuss your decision with your family.

When is a good time to start a family discussion?

Today. You can use every day situations to start a discussion on important life issues, including what to do with your organs and tissues when you die. This might include: 

  • the next time your family sits down together for a meal
  • making a will or advanced health directive
  • getting life insurance or income protection
  • leaving home for the first time as a young adult
  • getting or renewing your driver’s licence
  • celebrating an anniversary with your partner
  • having a significant birthday: 21, 30, 40, 50 or more
  • getting a check-up at the GP
  • hearing about someone who has been a donor, needs a transplant or has had a transplant
  • watching donation and transplantation stories on TV or seeing a media article
  • seeing or hearing an ad on TV, radio or billboards
  • seeing a traumatic event in the news
  • after a friend or family member dies
  • when children discuss the topic at school.

If you have already had a discussion with your family about your donation decision, these events provide a good opportunity to repeat your decision to ensure they are remembered.

Repeated discussions are important. While most Australians have already had a discussion on organ and tissue donation with their family and friends, a smaller group actually know the donation decisions of family members. Make sure you know – and that they know. 

Why does my family need to know my decision?

As part of the national reform programme for organ and tissue donation, the family of every potential donor will be asked to confirm the donation decision of their loved one before donation proceeds. The offer of donation is made by trained health professionals.

Even if you have registered your decision to be a donor, your family will still be asked to confirm consent.

The most important thing people want to know in order to make a decision about a family member becoming a donor is the decision of the deceased.

Many Australians have not informed their family of their donation decision. Many family members do not confidently know each other’s donation decision. Many people have not discussed their donation decision with family members in the past 12 months. Many cannot remember.

It’s not my family’s business

Yes it is. Your family will be asked confirm your decision to become a donor when you die.

I’ll think about it later

Most people who become donors die suddenly and unexpectedly. Now is the right time to have the discussion before the situation arises. 

I don’t have time. I’m too busy

It does not take long to register your decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register and to have a discussion with your family.

My family won’t understand

Organ and tissue donation is a sensitive subject. The decision to become a donor is a personal and important one. To make the right decision for yourself, you need to have the facts so that your decision is informed. Your family might also need time to discover the facts and make their own decisions.


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the facts about organ and
tissue donation

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and register on the Australian Organ Donor Register

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your donation decision with family and friends.

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