NSW beats organ donation records

ORGAN donation may have hit an all-time high in New South Wales, but new figures reveal plenty of viable donors and their families are not taking up the option.

The state recorded its highest number of organ donations on record last year, with 127 donors surpassing the previous record of 102 in 2013.

It also topped the state's target of 116 donors for 2015.

In all, 379 organs were transplanted. Tissue donation jumped as well, with 669 corneal transplants to restore recipients' sight making the list.

"Last year was a remarkable year for organ and tissue donation. At a time of immense grief and distress, a record number of NSW families chose to give the gift of life to someone in need," Health Minister Jillian Skinner said.

Figures obtained from NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service reveal 63% of families asked to consider donating their loved ones' organs last year agreed to the life-saving measure.

"Conversely, there were 67 families who did not support donation for their loved one, and 21 potential donors had expressed a wish not to be a donor on a register," the service said in a statement.

"Families play a crucial role in the donation process because they are asked to confirm the donation decision of their loved one.

"A common reason for declines is that families did not know what their loved one wanted.

"We urge every family to discuss their donation decisions, and to register those decisions on the Australian Organ Donor Register."

In 2012, the NSW Government shut down its state-run register and moved it to the Medicare-administered national system.

It also targeted its hospital placement of trained donation specialists who were well versed in managing the difficult conversation with grieving families.

"The 2015 result could not have been achieved without the expert care for families and organ and tissue donor patients provided by specialist doctors and nurses in our hospital intensive care units and emergency departments," Mrs Skinner said.

"Over 1600 Australians are on the organ transplant list at any time but organ donation is a very rare event - only about 1% of deaths occur in circumstances which allow organ donation to take place."

Australia has one of the best organ transplantation outcomes in the world. Of all the organs retrieved last year, 96% were transplanted.


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