International support for Australian organ donation reform

International support for Australian organ donation reform

World-leading organ and tissue donation experts visiting Australia for the International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement Congress (ISODP 2013) today commended the progress made under Australia's reform program to increase organ and tissue donation.

Head of Croatia's Institute for Transplantation and Biomedicine, Dr Mirela Busic said Australia is taking the appropriate steps and following best practice, "The level of change Australia has experienced in organ donation over the last four years – a 43% increase – is a positive result.  It takes time to demonstrate the impact of reform initiatives and the Organ and Tissue Authority is taking the right steps towards further improvement."

Incoming President of the ISODP, and Executive Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at the Canadian Blood Service, Kimberly Young, said there was much to learn from international collaboration, "International collaboration allows us to share our experience and discover new insights. In the past couple of days in Australia, there have been several ideas being implemented in Australia which have inspired me."

Gloria Paez, Education Director from Spain's Transplant Procurement Management (TPM) said Australia's approach to family donation conversations about organ and tissue donation is employed in world-leading countries like Spain, "All treating nurses and specialists working in intensive care are trained because they must work together when the rare opportunity for organ and tissue donation arises.

"A collaborative approach to discussing donation with families is taught as part of the Australian training of health professionals. This is the same as the Spanish and other international requesting models," said Ms Paez.

Reflecting on a tour of The Austin Hospital in Melbourne earlier this week, LifeSource (USA) CEO, Susan Gunderson, said, "Australia has spent a great deal of time investing in staff training and this is paying off. It shows that there is good knowledge in the hospital system of donation activity and outcomes." 

CEO of the Gift of Life Institute (USA) and past ISODP President, Howard Nathan said, "The work that's gone into education, the collaboration of the critical care physicians, the work of the DonateLife team is achieving incredible results. You have clinical support and public support. That's the secret to a good program.

"The family donor conversation training is the crucial conversation. Nurses and medical staff need to be comfortable to have that conversation and to be an advocate for the donor family. We're there to achieve a good result and to ensure the family feels supported," he said.

CEO of the Organ and Tissue Authority, Yael Cass said that Australia is on track in 2013 to achieve its fourth consecutive year of the highest number of organ donors and transplant recipients.

Ms Cass says the collaboration with the US based Gift of Life Institute to implement best practice family donation conversation training in Australia has been key to supporting families in the rare position to decide about proceeding with organ and tissue donation and improving consent rates.

The Congress opens in Sydney on Thursday 21 November and concludes on Sunday. 

- Ends -

Released 20 November 2013

For more information and media interviews, please contact the ISODP Media Team:
Anna Chalko 0401 264 949; or Lauren Metcalfe 0431 658 933.

Facts about organ and tissue donation in Australia
Organ donation remains a rare possibility. Less than one per cent of people die in intensive care units or emergency departments in the specific circumstances required to be a potential organ donor
At June 2013, our deceased donation consent rate had increased to 64 per cent from 54 per cent in 2010.
In 2012, 354 organ donors saved and transformed the lives of 1,053 Australians. In 2009, there were 247 organ donors

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