In Australia only a deceased person's family or senior next of kin can make the decision to allow the donation of a deceased person's organs.
Whether you register as a donor using the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority website or never get around to signing up, if you die in the right circumstances, your family will have the final decision as to whether you can donate your organs to save the lives of others.
That means your family can override your decision.
If you were to use the function on the registry to remove yourself from the registry or if you elected to record your decision not to be an organ donor, your family will still be asked to override your decision.
So the question should be asked, if the family of every single person who dies in the right way, is going to be asked to consider organ donation, why spend millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars on expensive advertising campaigns, sporting sponsorships and other activities to encourage people to register their intention to be an organ donor?
Each year Donate Life spend millions on Sponsoring Transplant Australia and Professional sporting clubs yet in the 6 years since the current CEO of the OTA assumed control the consent rate in Australia has fallen from 64% in 2017 to just 54% in 2022. The decline commenced well before the pandemic started.
Also despite other countries achieving records in consent rates and donations since the COVID crisis ended.
In Victoria registration rates are just 23 % of the potential population and the organ donation register can not register the intent for children. Yet consent rate for families saying YES by the wonderful people in that state is 52% just behind the national average of 54%.
More needs to be done to educate the 1400 unsuspecting families each year who do not know they will be faced with the heartbreaking loss of a loved one and be asked to donate their organs to save strangers.
Posthumous recognition as the heroes they are
Education on the importance of the rôle families have in organ donation and the good that can come from tragedy.
Better messaging to have the conversation with family about what to say if tragedy strikes.