Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing Catherine King today thanked the many thousands of Australians who made their organ and tissue donation wishes count during DonateLife Week 2013.
Speaking at the closing of DonateLife Week (24 February – 3 March) Ms King said, "Throughout DonateLife Week I participated in community events in Sydney, Canberra, Bendigo, Ballarat and Melbourne – just some of the hundreds of events that took place across Australia. These events inspired local communities to discover, decide and discuss organ and tissue donation."
The closing celebration for DonateLife Week took place at Melbourne's Piazza Italia in Argyle Square, Lygon Street. The event featured a line-up of music ranging from guitarist Dave Arden, The Transplants as well as Bollywood dancers and a poetry reading by Judith Durham dedicated to her friend and renowned musician Mandawuy Yunupingu, who is waiting for a kidney transplant.
"This is the third annual DonateLife Week and each year more Australians are taking part in activities right across Australia to raise awareness and promote the importance of family discussion and decision making on this highly sensitive and vital subject," said Ms King.
The theme of DonateLife Week 2013 was 'Make your wish count. Discover, decide and discuss organ and tissue donation'.
"Through the level of community events, social media discussions and media support it is clear that Australians heeded our call that to make your wish count you need to discuss your donation decision with loved ones. I thank the many community groups, student, sporting and cultural organisations, workplaces and others who staged events around Australia during DonateLife Week to encourage more Australian families to ask and know each other's wishes.
"I acknowledge the generosity of the many donor families and transplant recipients who shared their stories during DonateLife Week and in doing so inspire discussion. As more Australian families ask and know each other's donation wishes, more lives can and are being saved and transformed through organ and tissue donation.
DonateLife Week is led by the Organ and Tissue Authority, which released new research showing that 86% of Australians would consent to organ and tissue donation if they knew their loved one was willing. In contrast only 56% said they would consent if the wishes of their loved one were unknown.
"It is the rarity of organ donation that must surely compel each of us to discuss our donation decisions with family members, to optimise every chance for our wish to count. Less than 1% of all deaths in hospitals are in the specific circumstances where organ donation is possible.
Many more Australians have the potential to become eye and tissue donors. Eye and tissue donation can make the difference between sight and blindness, between mobility and never walking again, between speedy rather than protracted recovery from trauma, cancer or disease.
For more information visit www.donatelife.gov.au