Organ donations low despite funding boost
New figures released by Organ Donation New Zealand show there were just 38 organ donors last year. This is despite the Minister of Health, Tony Ryall announcing a funding boost of $4 million last year to try and raise donor numbers.
New Zealand has one of the lowest organ donor rates in the developed world. Last year we fared slightly better than Israel but were behind Cuba and Iceland. Spain has around 32 donors per million of population, compared with our nine.
Organ donor campaigner Andy Tookey is not surprised by the continued low donor rates.
‘‘We have exactly the same number of donors as we did 10 years ago.
‘‘Parliament’s Health Select Committee, in response to my petition were equally concerned and made a number of recommendations, one of which was a public awareness campaign. Ten years on from that report we still have had no progress.
‘‘There are plenty more potential donors, but we know that up to 60 per cent do not become donors because families refuse consent,’’ Mr Tookey says.
‘‘A public awareness campaign would encourage families to discuss their wishes with each other and maybe lessen that refusal rate,’’ he adds.
Mr Tookey is also concerned that the Minister of Health is ‘‘putting all of his eggs in one basket’’ by giving in to continued extra funding requests by the Organ Donor Service with no increase in outcome.
‘‘It is time to try other initiatives to increase the organ donor rate such as paying the funeral expenses of organ donors. More people would be prepared to discuss being a donor with their family if they knew that the financial burden of a funeral would be taken off their family at an already tragic time.
‘‘It’s ironic that many people already get a funeral grant from either being a beneficiary or from ACC, but donors who go on to save the lives of, or improve the quality of life for up to 10 people get nothing in recognition of their contribution to society.’’