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Organ donation saves lives!

Updated: Oct 28, 2022


Mr JUSTIN CLANCY (Albury) (23:04): I

In the words of a recipient of organ donation:

I am a forever grateful and very humbled recipient of a liver transplant which saved my life on New Year's Eve 2021 ... If it weren't for the kindness of my Donor to register to give the gift of life,[and] their loved ones honouring their promise to donate life and the work of the fantastic transplant team, I would be dead. I awoke ... with a new liver and a brand new outlook on life.

Organ donation changes lives. There is no more literal truth than that organ donors are giving of themselves to others in need. In 2021 consent rates were 56 per cent nationally and 51 per cent in New South Wales.

This represented a decline from 2020 consent rates, which were 58 per cent nationally and 56 per cent in New South Wales. COVID has slowed some aspects of donation. But, on a positive note, there was growth in the number of new registrations on the Australian Organ Donor Register in 2021, with around 350,000 people opting‑in - representing an increase of 87 per cent from 2020.

A lengthy period of growth can be traced back to the introduction in 2009 of a national program to encourage donation. Since then more than 15,500 people have received lifesaving organ transplants.

The NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service tells us there are currently 1,750 Australians on organ transplant waiting lists. Donation is not always from a deceased person. "Living donations" form a major segment of donation, and in New South Wales the most common solid organs donated by living donors are kidneys and partial livers. The NSW Tissue Bank also accepts femoral head—bone—donations made by living donors. Cord blood and bone marrow also have living donation programs.

The framework for New South Wales is set out in the Increasing Organ Donation in NSW: Government Plan 2012. An implementation advisory committee chaired by the Chief Health Officer oversees this strategy.

Three initiatives stand out for our attention.

First, we need to encourage organ and tissue donation. The Australian Government's Organ and Tissue Authority Strategic Plan 2021-22 to 2024-25 has been released and focuses on objectives to increase organ donation and transplantation. Campaigns do work.

Second, we can provide recognition of the donor's gift by noting details on the donor's death certificate, as has been the case since 2021 in the Australian Capital Territory. This incentive and recognition policy is now with the New South Wales Attorney General's office, in consultation with the NSW Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages. I take this opportunity to acknowledge the member for Willoughby, who has campaigned with me for that. I thank Minister Dominello, Minister Hazzard and the Attorney General for their attention.

Third, government can introduce cheek swabs as a non‑invasive method of matching potential donors to the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry. In 2020-21, all Australian governments combined to fund the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry to set up the process to reach people beyond those who are currently donors within the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood collection service. This is under review at a national level.

I encourage the review being completed so we can move forward on this important task. One donor can save or greatly improve the lives of 10 or more people. According to the Organ and Tissue Authority:

In 2021 in Australia approximately 1,250 people died in a way where organ donation could be considered.

As a parent of a son who has received a bone marrow transplant, while I know that organ donation is a different matter, I can speak to the importance of someone volunteering to give such a gift. I urge people to tell their family they want to save lives and to register their decision with the Australian Organ Donor Register. People should discuss it with their family because their family needs to understand their wishes as well as their role if asked.

For more information people can go to

I acknowledge the wonderful work being done by the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority, Transplant Australia, DonateLife, Donor Families Australia, the Attorney General, the Minister for Health, the Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, and advocates such as Robert Manning who help drive this important conversation. Finally, I encourage those who are at Parliament House on Wednesday 19 October to attend the Parliamentary Morning Tea for Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplant Awareness to show your support.

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