Organ donor opt-out bid
AUSTRALIANS will have to donate their organs when they die — unless they opt out under major changes proposed by a parliamentary committee.
In a bid to stamp out the illegal trade in organ donation, MPs are considering an “optout” approach.
The opt-out policy means people are presumed to be organ donors unless they officially register to opt out.
The recommendation comes as controversy continues to rage over the Government’s shift to make the electronic My Health Record an opt-out system, and the shift is not backed by the Minister Ken Wyatt, the Organ and Tissue Authority which runs the nation’s transplant program or Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King.
Federal MPs have also recommended the law be changed so Australians who have an illegal organ transplant overseas are charged with a crime when they return home to Australia. And they want it to be mandatory for doctors to report their suspicions if they believe a patient had an illegal organ transplant overseas.
A parliamentary inquiry into the illegal organ trade reported this week and called for major changes to stamp out the organ trade and wants Australia to consider switching to an opt-out system of organ donation.
“Of the top 10 organ donating countries in the world as of 2016, seven have been ‘opt out’ for a number of years, and two more have adopted an opt-out system in the past year,” the committee notes.
Only one in three of Australians are registered as organ donors.
The organ donation rate in Australia for 2017 was 20.7 donations per million people while Spain has an opt-out system, and their donation rate is twice that of Australia’s.
Mr Wyatt, the MP for Hasluck in Perth, said research showed that better long-term results were achieved through systemic approaches that educate and involve donors, families and hospital.
“In 2017, Australia recorded its highest rates of deceased donation, with 510 deceased organ donors and 364 deceased tissue donors.
This resulted in the transformation of the lives of almost 9000 Australians,” he said.
Dr Helen Opdam, national medical director of the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority, told the committee an opt-out system was not a “silver bullet”, as it could lead to families not discussing organ donation, and suspicion that people’s wishes may not be taken into account.
Ms King said Labor would consider changes to organ donation arrangements ahead of the next election but “an opt-out system is not the answer.”