Organ and Tissue Authority

Our 2020 outcomes data

Article Date: 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Today we released our annual outcomes data, outlining Australia’s deceased organ donation and transplantation rates for 2020.

There was a 12 per cent decrease in the number of people receiving a transplant and a 16 per cent decrease in the number of donors compared to 2019 due to the impact of COVID-19.

These results exceed earlier predictions and are a reflection of the resilience of our DonateLife teams, as well as a dedicated donation and transplantation sector.

At the start of the pandemic, the transplant sector took precautionary steps and suspended the adult kidney and pancreas transplant programs from late-March through to mid-May. This was due to the concern about hospitals being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and also to prevent transplant patients at high risk being exposed to the virus.

While life-saving heart, lung, liver and paediatric transplants continued for those patients who were at high risk of dying without a transplant, during this time, there were fewer procedures. However as transplant centres across Australia began to re-open on a case-by-case basis, transplant and donation numbers began to increase.

Despite the many obstacles that were faced throughout the year, 1,270 Australians lives were saved through an organ transplant due to the generosity of 463 deceased organ donors and their families in 2020.

We’d like to thank those generous Australians and their families who chose to save the lives of others in 2020 by saying ‘yes’ to organ donation.

We also acknowledge the incredible work of hospital teams and our DonateLife staff who are embedded in 95 hospitals across Australia for their outstanding efforts during the pandemic. These teams went above and beyond to navigate the challenges facing hospitals and logistics — including with COVID-19 restrictions, flight reductions and border closures — so that patients received the best possible outcomes.

There are currently around 1,650 Australians waitlisted for a transplant and more than 12,000 additional people are on dialysis — many who may need a kidney transplant.

Ultimately we need more Australians to say “yes” to donation. Registering to become a donor and talking to your family about your decision has a direct influence on consent rates.

Explore the 2020 deceased organ donation and transplantation data and find out more about:

  • the impact of COVID-19 on the national program
  • the number of organ transplants and donors in 2020 and how they compare to 2019
  • a breakdown of transplants by organ types and location.

The Minister’s media release is available on the Department of Health website.

Living organ donation and eye and tissue donation outcomes will be released in the coming weeks as the data becomes available.

Graphic of native plants

Join us online Saturday, 5 June 3pm for the DonateLife National Service of Remembrance