France recently made headlines in the organ transplant space, when it introduced legislation from 1 January presuming all citizens to be organ donors unless they have formally ‘opted out’.
Other countries which operate the ‘opt out’ system include Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Singapore, Spain and Wales. Opt out systems are said to increase the number of available organs and decrease transplant waiting lists in these countries.
Australia operates under the ‘opt in’ system, meaning you must formally register your wish to be an organ donor on the Australian Organ Donor Register, and most importantly discuss your wishes with your family who can still overturn your decision to register to donate your organs if you were to pass away.
In 2016, 503 deceased organ donors gave 1,448 Australians a second chance at life, and 267 Australians received a living donation. However about 1,400 Australians remain on the transplant waiting list at any one time.
Save Lives Donate Organs (SLDO) supports all policy decisions which ease the process of becoming an organ donor or are likely to increase the number of organs available for donation, but stresses that this is only ‘half the battle’.
“The availability of organs is only one aspect of a successful transplant,” said Brett Bullock, founder and president of SLDO, “Australia faces unique challenges because of its large land mass and many different State-based healthcare systems, so it’s important we instil the right culture and systems in our health care systems and institutions to support organ donation by ensuring suitable donors and recipients are quickly identified and matched. A larger number of possible organ donors is exactly what we need but if each opportunity for donation is not identified and matched withthe organ reaching the right recipient in time, we miss out on the huge benefits to our community that organ donation brings.”