Around Australia, politicians are questioning the state of the declining rates of organ donation.
The Organ and Tissue Authority believes to fix the problem, more Australians need to "register their intention using a 1 minute online process and the tell our families. It's no silver bullet, yet we are spending millions of dollars every year and it's not working.
Some believe we need to change to a system of Opt Out mas if by the laws changing to make everyone an organ donor unless they specifically refuse to register, is a fair way to go. Despite their grieving family objecting for what ever reason.
In a civilised society whilst the rights and wishes of each individual should be honoured, in all cases a grieving family must be able to consent to the treatment of their deceased loved one.
When I was lying completely incapacitated in a coma, very near death, my wife was responsible for consenting to my life saving surgery and medical treatment.
Fortunately for me an amazing medical team somewhere else was caring for another patient who unfortunately for them and their family, had come to the end of their mortal journey.
Through a process of compassion and understanding the medical team communicated with a grieving family about how their loved ones passing could provide hope and a chance at life for others through the gift of life and organ donation.
A team of highly skilled and extremely dedicated medical professionals then worked together to undertake the necessary surgery carefully on my Donor and me. Whilst a well trained specialist nurse comforted and cared for the family of my Donor Heroe.
The system we have works. It worked prior to The COVID PANDEMIC, it worked during the COVID PANDEMIC and the same "system" we have now can work into the future and can work better with higher consent rates, more organ and tissue donation, and more lives saved or improved through organ donation if we just improve the LEGISLATION, EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION around Organ and Tissue Donation.
Harmonisation of the Sates and Territories laws so that the public and the medical community are all subject to the same laws.
Improve the education of of intensivists around identifying donors and recipients. Introduce organ and tissue donation into the primary curriculum so parents and children learn about how miraculous Organ and Tissue Donation even in death is.
Communicate with all of our community about the realities of Organ Donation and why #nextofkinconsent is so important.
Finally if we honoured our Donor Heroes and allowed families to celebrate the contributions of their loved ones in saving others, Organ Donation would become a more normal decision for families who are grieving their loss.
Don't believe me?
It is 3 years since the law changed around Organ Donation in England to the ‘Opt Out’ scheme. But please do not forget you still have a choice if you want to be an organ donor, and families will still be involved in the process so please share your donation decisions with your loved ones.
Today Pippa should be celebrating her birthday with her friends and family but sadly over four years ago Pippa collapsed and sadly passed away. Pippa went on to save lives through organ donation so others may celebrate birthdays with their friends and families. We now share her full story on this Pippa’s birthday as told by her proud father, Keith:
“One evening in November 2018 I was at home when the telephone rang. It was a paramedic telling me they were with my daughter Pippa who had rang them just before she collapsed at home. They told us she was very poorly and they were taking her to the local A&E hospital and advised us to get there ASAP.
We arrived there about one hour later to be told that Pippa was in the resuscitation area and being ventilated as she was not breathing by herself. It appeared to be very chaotic with lots of medics around. We were then informed that Pippa was to be transferred to larger main hospital.
We arrived there shortly after and were met there by a family liaison nurse and a consultant who were very caring and told us that Pippa had suffered a ‘catastrophic brain haemorrhage ‘ .
About an hour later two more consultants spoke to us and informed us that there was no hope of Pippa surviving but they will be doing a ‘ brain stem’ test to confirm or otherwise any signs of life. A short while after one consultant returned along with a specialist nurse (in organ donation) . The consultant confirmed that there was no sign of Pippa’s brain activity and expressed his condolences then he left the private room we were in. At this point we were devastated with shock and grief.
The specialist nurses supported us with care and compassion as they informed us that Pippa had registered her wishes by three different media to have her organs and tissues donated should the occasion arise. The specialist nurse asked us about our thoughts about this ? Myself, my wife and family members were in the room.
As we began to think about donation . It soon became apparent that we should honour Pippa’s wishes and give our consent to donate all that could be retrieved to help others. We were informed as to what would happen next and were given paperwork to sign and information leaflets etc. The specialist nurse’s gave us as much time as we needed to say our heart breaking ‘good byes' to Pippa.Some time later (not sure how long that was? ) as we were still in a state of disbelief, shock and devastation we left the hospital and went home.
However, as our grief continued after a period of time it became a little ‘softer around the edges’ knowing that we had honoured Pippa’s wishes and made the correct decisions because Pippa had ‘Shared her Wishes’
A few months later we were invited to a formal presentation of the ‘ Order of ST John ‘ at Preston where we received a medal and certificate for Pippa's ‘gift of life to others. We have also received correspondence from some of Pippa’s recipients who were doing fine at that time.
Since then I have become an NHS ‘Organ & Tissue Donation Ambassador ‘ promoting ‘Organ and Tissue Donation awareness, Donor family advisory group, part of Donor Family Network, and a keen supporter of ‘Share your Wishes’ so please have the conversation.
Thank you. Keith and family.”