A new survey released today shows most Central Coast residents believe ending a relationship, talking to an elderly family member about aged care and explaining the birds and the bees to their kids are harder conversations to have with their loved ones than organ and tissue donation.
Yet only one in two Australians know if their next of kin wants to be a donor.
The findings emerged from a comprehensive survey of 3800* Australians including a number from Gosford, Erina, Lake Haven, Avoca Beach, Copacabana, MacMasters Beach, Killcare, Empire Bay, Box Head, Yarramalong, Ravensdale, Tuggerah, Tacoma, Tuggerawong, Wyong, The Entrance, Chittaway Bay, Shelly Beach and Toowoon Bay conducted by TNS on behalf of the Organ and Tissue Authority.
Chief Executive Officer Karen Murphy said families need to know each other’s wishes about organ and tissue donation because, even if you are registered as a donor, your next of kin is still asked to give consent for donation to take place.
“We are encouraging families to have a discussion about organ and tissue donation while they are together this festive season. Consider having the discussion as part of a New Year’s resolution, so should the situation ever arise your family is able to make a decision with confidence,” said Ms Murphy.
“The Central Coast results showed when it comes to having the hardest conversation - breaking up (44%), talking about putting a loved one in aged care (28%), discussing sex with the kids (18%), discussing your will (5%) and telling family members you lost your job (5%) were all ahead of discussing organ and tissue donation which didn’t register a response.
“It seems Central Coast residents are more likely to know less important things about their loved ones such as favourite drink (85%), music preferences (79%) and food (78%) compared with only 50% knowing their loved ones wish to be an organ and tissue donor.”
Ms Murphy said the survey has been released as part of the DonateLife community education and awareness program, which aims to empower Australians to discover the facts about organ and tissue donation, become informed and decide about becoming a donor and discuss their wishes with their family.
“We can save many more Australian lives if we make sure families discuss, accept and respect each other’s wishes about organ and tissue donation. That is why I invite all Australians to make a New Year’s resolution to become a DonateLife Family this festive season,” she said.
A DonateLife Family is a family that knows each other’s wishes about organ and tissue donation. Families are more likely to give consent when they know the wishes of their loved one. When families are approached only 56%** consent to donation and we are determined to urgently improve this.
“So far this year across the nation, 225 generous organ donors have given a new chance at life for 732 Australians. The survey showed most Australians (56%) thought there were more than a 1000 donors each year, with 84% thinking there were more than 500,” she said.
“A further 1700 Australians on official transplant waiting lists continue a difficult wait for a life-saving transplant (1711 as at 3 November 2009).”
National Medical Director Dr Gerry O’Callaghan said the survey showed there are still many myths about organ and tissue donation being circulated that need to be put to rest.
“Unfortunately, some Central Coast residents (33%) believe the myth, doctors will not work as hard to save their lives if they were an organ donor,” Dr O’Callaghan said.
“Another myth that some Central Coast residents (22%) mistakenly believe is that a person’s body will be disfigured and mutilated. This is not the case, donation surgery is undertaken with dignity and respect.”
Nationally, Dr O’Callaghan also encouraged males and Generation Y in particular to have the conversation this festive season.
“Females (60%) are also significantly more likely to be organ donors than males (52%) and women also know more about their loved ones’ personal tastes and preferences,” he said.
“Gen X (52%) and Baby Boomers (47%) are significantly more likely to know their next of kin’s wishes regarding donation than Gen Y (42%).”
Other key national findings from the survey:
- 77% of Australians would be influenced to donate if a loved one required a transplant
- 86% of people who want to be donors believe their next of kin know their wishes, but on the flipside only
- 48% of Australians know if their next of kin wants to be an organ donor
- 37% don’t feel they know enough about organ/tissue donation to raise the conversation with their family
- Australians who know their next of kin’s intention to be a donor are more likely to consent to donation
- (94%) than those who don’t know their next of kin’s wishes (41%)
- 62% would find it useful to write down their family wishes regarding organ and tissue donation
Along with the awareness program, the DonateLife Network has also been formed as the cornerstone of the Australian Government’s $151.1 million national reform agenda and is made up of more than 300 dedicated professionals.
“We’re seeking to improve consent on two fronts – firstly, by asking families to learn their loved ones wishes and secondly, through developing organ donation expertise in hospitals,” Dr O’Callaghan said.
“Our new specialist workforce of highly trained doctors and nurses will be working to ensure donation is a routine part of end-of-life patient care and that every potential donor is identified and their families asked about donation in a sensitive and respectful way.”
DonateLife is the new brand and name for the national network of organ donor agencies that will deliver the message that every Australian has the potential to save lives.
To support Australians in having this important discussion, the new DonateLife website www.donatelife.gov.au features a section that provides supporting materials for family discussion, including a downloadable DonateLife Family certificate.
The certificate can be used to keep a record of each other’s wishes. It is not a legal document; it is a simple way to help people to remember the decisions of loved ones.
*About the Organ and Tissue Donation Survey: The survey was conducted by TNS in October 2009. It surveyed 3800 people throughout Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania. **AOTA figure.
For media resources and more information about organ and tissue donation and to become a DonateLife Family visit www.donatelife.gov.au
Media contacts: Shaun Rigby on 07 3251 8140 or 3251 8111 or 0438 021 936