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The Heroic Role of Families in Organ Donation: A Personal Perspective

When one passes away, they no longer have a say in whether their organs are donated to save the lives of others. Have you considered registering with the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority as an organ donor in the event of the right circumstances?

This decision might make you feel good, as it's an altruistic act and relatively simple to do. You may have even felt it was important to inform people about your registration, as I did.

However, it's crucial to realize that merely letting people know is insufficient. Even if you've registered as a donor, if you pass away while on life support to preserve your organs for transplantation, your family will be approached for consent because, in Australia, organ donation requires next of kin consent.

Alternatively, you might hold strong views against organ donation and use the registration process to record your decision not to be a donor. In such a case, you might be surprised to learn that if you pass away under the right circumstances, your family may still be asked to consider overriding your decision and donating your organs.

To ensure your wishes are honored and to become a donor hero when you pass away, it's essential to communicate your intentions to your family before any tragedy occurs and request them to respect your wishes upon your passing.

No family anticipates becoming a donor family on any given day, yet approximately 1400 families in Australia face this decision each year, often for the first time, when they discover their loved one won't be returning home. Last year, 701 of these families demonstrated compassion and generosity by giving the gift of life through organ donation.

For full disclosure, in 2022, one of these families agreed to donate, and in that moment, they saved my life. That's why I'm deeply grateful and passionate about increasing awareness of the vital role families play in organ donation, and why I believe every donor is a hero.

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