Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King, today welcomed a steady increase in organ donation during 2012 resulting in more lives being saved through transplantation.
Ms King said that, in 2012, the generosity of 354 organ donors and their families who agreed to donation gave 1,052 Australians a second chance at life.
"While we were aiming for an even greater increase during 2012, it is important that we have continued the rise in the donation and transplantation rates," Ms King said.
"We will continue to set challenging targets for organ donation increases in coming years to ensure we absolutely maximise the opportunities for life saving transplantations for many more Australians."
The 2012 figures were 5% higher than in 2011, while the national donation rate increased to 15.6 donors per million population (dpmp) – an increase of 38 per cent in the national donation rate since 2009, when the Government established the Organ and Tissue Authority.
"While acknowledging the steady growth in organ and tissue donation and transplantation outcomes in 2012, there is still considerable work to be done to increase the opportunities for those whose only hope for a future is the gift of a transplant," Ms King said.
Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Queensland and the ACT all achieved their highest ever annual donation outcomes in 2012.
NSW showed improvement compared with its 2011 outcome, with the State Government's decision to move towards a single national register expected to positively impact on NSW donation rates in the years to come.
Ms King said that, since the 2009 establishment of the national network of DonateLife organ donation specialists in 74 hospitals across Australia, considerable progress has been made to drive clinical change practices to remove potential barriers to organ and tissue donation.
"One of the greatest challenges clinical staff face is asking the families of potential donors to make a decision about agreeing to donation so soon after a loved one has died, often suddenly and unexpectedly," Ms King said.
"More than 390 clinical staff received intensive training in 2012 in the most appropriate ways to sensitively conduct conversations with potential donor families and requesting consent for donation.
"The reality is that very few people – around 1 per cent – will die in hospital in specific circumstances where organ donation is possible, although the circumstances in which you can become a tissue donor are less limited.
"We continue to urge every Australian family to ask and know the donation wishes of each family member."
In addition to the organ and tissue outcome for 2012, provisional data indicates that 1,169 Australians donated their corneas and 1,942 Australians had their sight improved through corneal transplants in 2012. This represents a significant increase compared with 1,083 corneal donors and 1,716 corneal transplants in 2011.
"I acknowledge the strong collaboration between the Government's Organ and Tissue Authority, state and territory governments, the DonateLife agencies, eye and tissue banks and other clinical partners in the encouraging results for 2012," Ms King said.
"I also thank the dedicated community organisations and Community Awareness Grant project partners who are determined to sustain the trends of increased donation and transplantation outcomes."
The Organ and Tissue Authority's 2012 Performance Report will be available at http://www.donatelife.gov.au/the-authority/performance-reports from 8.00am on Tuesday 22 January 2013.