I was pretty excited to see some mainstream media coverage about the single biggest investment by the Australian Federal government into raising awareness for the need for more organ donors.
The two team members featured, have amazing stories. They also have great appreciation for the the gift of life a stranger's family gave them when that family gave the necessary next of kin consent required in every deceased Organ Donor Situation.(whether the deceased person had registered their intention to donate before they died.)
But the key message from the news article seems to be the scam being perpetrated against the organisers.
The total cost of "the event" is in excess of $4m and whilst participants have put up around $1.5m in registration fees, $1.6m has been fronted by the Australian government and endorsed by the OTA and federal assistant minister Ged Kearney.
Don't get me wrong, the World Transplant Games is an amazing initiative for raising awareness and an awesome opportunity for people who, as the reporter acknowledged, have already won their biggest battle, to show their gratitude for their second chance at life in an Olympic style sports event attended by 46 different countries.
Since the Organ and Tissue Authority formed, focus in Australia has been on getting just 37% of Australia's Adult population to register their intent to be organ donors. Supported largely by focusing on the recipients and the amazing stories of their pre transplant illness and lives and recovery post transplant. What's missing from the discussion in the community is what it means when a deceased donor gifts the second chance for strangers.
In Western Australia, where this multi million dollar celebration of life is being held, it is and has been a breach of the Human Tissue and Transplant Act.1982 for families to make public the name of their loved one who became a donor hero since the act was introduced.
In July last year the Health Minister and the Chief Health Officer wrote to Donor Families Australia, DonateLife and Transplant Australia advising that there was no public interest in prosecuting families of fining them $500, if they disclosed the name of their loved ones as deceased donors whilst commemorating them.
Whilst this gave some comfort to families of deceased donors, the law still remains and needs to be changed.
It is critical for more lives to be saved, that the Next Of Kin Consent rates are improved from the low of 50% in WA.
Even if the deceased person had registered their intent to be an organ donor via the DonateLife website, their family, who will have just learned their loved one is not coming home, will be asked to give consent for their organs to be donated to save the lives of strangers.
I applaud the WA government for their initiative not to pursue Donor Families, and their commitment to review and change the law so Donor Heroes can be celebrated.
However, I call on the WA Government and all governments across Australia to recognise and celebrate the gift of life made possible by Donor Heroes and their selfless loving families who at a time of immense suffering and grief had the compassion to consent to their loved ones gift of life.
That's the message $1.6m would be better used to convey across our country.
CHANGE THE LEGISLATION
IMPROVE THE EDUCATION
INCREASE THE COMMUNICATION