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Organ, eye and tissue donation saves lives, restores health and improves the quality of life for thousands of Australians each year. But did you know that only 2% of people who die in hospital each year can be considered for organ donation? One organ donor can save the lives of up to 7 people and help many more through eye and tissue donation.
Download the 2022 Donation and Transplantation Activity Report for more detailed data and analysis.
Organ donation process
- Very few people can become an organ donor when they die.
- A person must die in a hospital in specific circumstances, in an ICU or ED, as organs need to be functioning well to be considered for transplantation.
- Only around 2% of people who die in Australian hospitals meet the criteria required to be an organ donor
- In 2022, around 1,400 people (of the 80,000 people who died in Australian hospitals) died in a way where organ donation could be considered
- Requests to families for donation were made in 1,300 cases
- Of this, 701 families said yes to donation in the hospital – representing a national consent rate of 54% – with 454 people becoming organ donors
- With only a small number of potential donors, increasing consent is critical to increasing our donation rate.
- There are around 1,800 Australians waitlisted for a transplant and around 14,000 additional people on dialysis – some of whom may need a kidney transplant.
Australia’s potential deceased organ donor population and transplantation outcomes
*2021 was an anomaly for new registrations attributed to a record number of Australians registering when accessing their COVID-19 vaccination certificates through the Express Plus Medicare app.
While the majority of Australians support organ and tissue donation, only around one in three (36%) are registered to be a donor.
Since the national program first began in 2009, more than 16,700 people have received life-saving organ transplants from 5,904 deceased organ donors.
Deceased organ donation and transplant recipients 2000-2022
The first 10 years of the national program saw a 122% increase in deceased donation rates, resulting in an 81% increase in people receiving an organ transplant.
Since the emergence of COVID-19, the number of donors and people who have received a transplant has dropped by 15%, though there was a small increase in 2022 compared to 2021.
What can you do to help?
We know that 8 out of 10 families gave consent to donation when their family member was registered to be a donor. This dropped to only 4 out of 10 families who gave consent to donation when their family didn't know they wanted to be a donor.
“We ended up in hospital hoping he might become a transplant recipient, and as fate would have it, he ended up becoming a donor,” says Rebecca. Through the incredible gift of organ donation, Peter saved three lives.
“Katie spent her whole life helping and looking after people, so, that she could still do that after she left us was really special,” says Rob. Katie’s liver and kidneys were transplanted to others in need of lifesaving and life-changing surgery.
Need more information?
Access our data reports from previous years and find out how we use data to increase the rates of donation and transplantation.
* From deceased donors
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of death, Australia, 2021 (Released 19/10/2022).
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. National, state and territory Population, 30 June 2022 (Released 16/12/2022).
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021. Admitted patient care 2020–21 (Released 01/06/2022).
- DonateLife Audit, February 2023.
- Deceased organ donation in Australia, Australia and New Zealand Organ Donation Registry, 15 January 2023.